Pack to clash with Panthers
Once momentum is built, the key is to sustain it and that’s what both Washington and Northside will look to do tonight when the two teams square off at 7 p.m. at Washington High School.
The atmosphere will be a charged one as the contest features two Beaufort County rivals and comes on a night where Washington will induct Bruce Linton, Charles Daniels, Phillip Mobley and the 1975 and ’76 basketball teams into its Walk of Fame during halftime.
“The guys are really excited about that,” Washington coach Sport Sawyer said. “They know there will be a few extra people there and the guys want to come out and play well for them.”
After holding on to top North Pitt 28-20 in its season opener, the Pam Pack (1-1, Coastal Conference) put forth a strong outing on the road last Friday in its 34-21 loss to three-time defending NCHSAA 2-A state champs Tarboro despite not having three-year starting quarterback Jimmy Williams, who was out with a hip injury.
After a slow start at Tarboro, Washington outscored the Vikings 14-13 in the second half as sophomore signal-caller Patrick Thompson threw a 23-yard TD pass to Jack Rodman and a 30-yard scoring strike to Stevie Green, who also added a 28-yard TD run.
Whether or not Williams will play tonight will be a game time decision, but if he can’t go Sawyer feels confident that Thompson can get the job done.
“We’ve got a lot of confidence in Patrick. He went to Tarboro and stepped in and did a great job,” Sawyer said. “Plus we have guys like (running backs) Markell Spencer and Stevie Green who have made some big plays. I feel like if Jimmy isn’t ready to go those guys can step up.”
While Sawyer was happy to see Thompson continue to improve, the Washington coach was even more pleased with the progression of his offensive line.
“The offensive line did much better than in the first game,” Sawyer said. “Dillon Cutler is anchoring that, Chris Bohn is new, Caleb Jones is new and then we have Matt Wescott and Montgomery McClure. Those five guys have gotten a lot better and continue to work hard.”
The Panthers (2-0, Four Rivers Conference) are no strangers to hard work themselves. After cruising past Creswell 30-6 in Week 1, Northside rallied from an 8-0 deficit to down Pamlico 22-8 on Monday night.
Northside coach Keith Boyd is hoping that his team’s strong play will continue against the Pam Pack.
“We’re looking forward to going over there and competing,” Boyd said. “We’re optimistic after starting off 2-0 and we just want to go over there and compete and give them a good game. If we can be in it at the end you never know; you have a chance to win.”
The Panthers will have to do so without starting quarterback Noel Howson, who suffered a concussion playing against Pamlico. Starting in his place will be Malik Slade, who will have a short week to prepare for the Pam Pack’s improving 4-4 defense.
“We’re going to have to make some adjustments and give some different looks to accommodate the backup quarterback,” Boyd said. “But, we feel like Malik Slade can go in there and get the job done.”
Howson had been a key ingredient in Northside’s shotgun wing-T offense, but the play of 5-4, 145-pound WB/DB Kentrell Washington has been just as vital. Washington scored twice against Pamlico and has been a potent weapon in the Panthers’ attack.
“He’s been a spark for us,” Boyd said. “Offensively, he’s a guy who can jitterbug you a bit. Being such a small guy he has some toughness, both offensively and defensively. When the ball’s in his hands he can do some things that you can’t necessarily coach.”
Complimenting Washington as an offensive threat will be Northside’s 6-8 freshman WR Edrice Adebayo who made two key catches on both of the Panthers’ scoring drives on Monday and presents a big challenge to the Washington defense.
“With his athletic ability you have to be aware of him,” Sawyer said. “If not he can burn you.”
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