Balance the key for Washington

Published 8:09 pm Thursday, September 20, 2012

Washington quarterback Jimmy Williams (center) and the Pam Pack look to extend their three-game winning streak at home tonight as they host West Craven. (WDN Photo/Ashley Vansant)

The Pam Pack has been here before. It was only a year ago that the Washington football team arrived at this point in the season with an identical 4-1 record and all the promise that comes along with it.
However, disaster struck in Week 6 as quarterback Jimmy Williams sustained a season-ending concussion and the Pack won only one more game the rest of year.
In 2011 Washington relied on the electric Williams to make plays on a nightly basis. This season, Williams has played sparingly due to a hip injury but the Pam Pack has been just as successful thanks to a rise in production from the supporting cast on offense and a dominating defense that has pitched two shutouts in the last three games.
Washington coach Sport Sawyer said that he is encouraged by his team’s early season success but hopes that the events of last year help serve as a reminder to his team stay humble as it plays it second conference game of the year at home tonight against West Craven (3-2, 0-1), who lost 39-8 to D.H. Conley last week.
“We’re really excited, we just have to remember to stay focused week by week,” Sawyer said. “Things can happen. Last year we were 4-1 and ended up 5-5, so we’re trying to keep it in perspective. We want to enjoy everything, but we need to stay focused.”
Washington is in the midst of a three-game winning streak, with its last victory being an impressive 35-0 win over Jacksonville in its Coastal Conference opener in which Williams returned to the starting lineup to throw for 151 yards and two TDs.
Washington has been able to sustain the absence of Williams on offense thanks to a dynamic effort by running backs Stevie Green and Markel Spencer, while getting sturdy performances from sophomore backup QB Patrick Thompson.
Green, a 6-0, 175-pound junior RB/WR, has been a fantasy football owner’s dream as he has racked up 11 TDs so far this season, which is three more than the rest of the offense combined. Green leads the Pam Pack with 324 receiving yards and is second on the team in rushing with 407 yards.
Spencer, a 5-8, 170-pound sophomore, is Washington’s leading rusher with 665 yards and is averaging an eye-popping 7.7 yards per attempt.
Sawyer said the duo is shaping up to be one the best he’s ever coached.
“(Former WHS RB) Travis Daniels was a beast but as far as a tandem, they’re probably the best I’ve had,” Sawyer said.
Washington defensive coordinator Jon Blank has done a tremendous job with his unit this year as the Pam Pack have yielded an average of 12 points per game in the first year of its 4-4 defense.
Sawyer said the elevation in leadership and production from the upper classmen has been key.
“We have a lot of people that have been playing three years now and they are rising up,” Sawyer said. “We have anchors like (DE) Jack Rodman and (MLB) Jaquez Columbus, but we also have a lot of young people surrounding them that are stepping up.”
Columbus leads the Pack defense with 50 tackles and two sacks, while LB Tarahje Burke is second with 29 stops and is followed by LB Karim Topping (28), DT Baylone Guilford (27) and Rodman (25).
That unit will have its hands full as it tries to contain West Craven’s dual-threat QB Demetrius Abrams and a versatile Eagles’ offense.
“They run the spread and an I offense and they seem to change it up every play,” Sawyer said. “Abrams and a couple of other guys are some pretty good athletes. We have to make sure that we don’t let up against them and stay focused.”