Looking to stay grounded

Published 7:23 pm Thursday, September 13, 2012

Washington’s Markel Spencer (6) and the Pam Pack will play their Coastal Conference opener tonight at Jacksonville. (WDN Photo/Ashley Vansant)

The ground game has been a critical element in the Washington’s football team’s early season success and tonight the rushing attack will be a pivotal factor as the Pam Pack marches into its Coastal Conference opener on the road against Jacksonville.
Last week, Washington (3-1) was able to salvage a win over Riverside thanks to a strong second half in which it relied on running backs Stevie Green and Markel Spencer to gain chunks of yards behind a sturdy offensive line that led the team to a 21-6 victory.
Tonight, the Washington offense must find that same intensity and execution from the get-got as it faces a Cardinals team whose 3-4 defense is anchored by two 300-pounders up front.
“Jacksonville is 3-1 and they are only giving up 9.5 points per game. Their defense has been very, very good,” Washington coach Sport Sawyer said. “They got some big boys up front and they have some good linebackers. We have our work cut out for us on offense.
“Our offensive line is going to have to use correct technique and get underneath them and give our running backs an ally to run in.”
Playing up front for Washington will be center Dylan Cutler, right guards Mathew Wescott and Corey Grady, right tackle Avery Respess, left guard Montgomery McClure and left tackle Caleb Jones.
So far that unit has done a solid job as the Pam Pack rushed 47 times against the Knights for 309 yards.
With quarterback Jimmy Williams missing a large chunk of the season due to a hip injury, Green, a 6-foot, 175-pound junior, has emerged as Washington’s primary weapon and has accounted for five rushing TDs and one touchdown reception in the last two games.
“Stevie Green is just a different young man. He’s made himself more low key and does everything now just more low key,” Sawyer said. “He even runs low key, but he’s just hard to tackle and plays hard. He runs and catches the ball well and we are going to do some things to get the ball in his hands.”
Whether or not Williams, who has been battling a hip injury all year, plays tonight will be a game-time decision. If he cannot go, sophomore Patrick Thompson will make his second straight start against a Cardinals team that is coming off of a 7-6 victory over Richlands.
Defensively, Washington has been stout, as it has yielded a mere 15 points per game this season and only six points in the last two contests. The Washington defense forced and recovered a big fumble at the start of the second half last week. It was a play that jumpstarted the Pam Pack, who were trailing 6-0 at the time, and swung momentum in its favor.
Like all teams this time of year, Washington’s goal is to win a conference title, and the Pack will look to take the first step toward that tonight.
“Right now nonconference is over and we really want to contend for a conference championship,” Sawyer said. “That’s our goal, so we really need to have this game. Each week is very, very important, but this one is huge.”