Pack ready for rematch
Published 8:02 pm Thursday, November 1, 2012
It’s not very often life offers you a do-over, but that’s exactly what the Washington football team will get tonight when it hosts West Craven in the first round of the NCHSAA 3-A playoffs.
The Pam Pack faced the Eagles in Week 6 and fell 20-14 as it threw two interceptions — one of which was returned 54 yards for a score by Tyquail Raynor — and allowed star QB Demetres Abrams to run for a 36-yard TD.
It was a game that stuck in the craw of Washington coach Sport Sawyer and could have potentially cost the team a crack at second place in the Coastal Conference standings had D.H. Conley not had to vacate a couple of wins.
“There were a few big plays we let up in that game but otherwise we played pretty good,” Sawyer said. “West Craven played hard and made some plays and I feel like we didn’t. We want to redeem ourselves so we’re looking forward to this game.”
The Pam Pack (8-2) lost the following week to defending state champs Havelock, but since then have been on fire and ripped off four straight wins to lockup second place as well as the No. 3 seed in the postseason, which allows Washington to host the No. 6 Eagles (6-4) tonight in its first home game since 2008.
“We had a bumpy middle part of the season there but right now things have kind of fallen into place,” Sawyer said. “It feels good. I think the guys have a little bit of confidence and we’re ready to keep playing some football.”
While the Pam Pack has been on fire, the Eagles have struggled down the stretch as they lost three of their last four games.
West Craven QB Abrams has missed some snaps over the last two weeks due to injury but is expected to play tonight and split time with backup QB Alkeim Harley.
Sawyer is leaving nothing to chance and said, “We’re preparing for (Abrams) to play.”
The Pam Pack have been clicking on all cylinders lately and wrapped up the regular season with a solid 31-14 victory over West Carteret in which senior QB Jimmy Williams ran for a season-high 217 yards despite having a 60-yard run called back due to a holding penalty.
Sophomore RB Markell Spencer rushed for 137 yards in the win, and with that effort upped his season total to 1,008 yards.
While the offense has seemingly found its rhythm, so has the defense. During its four-game winning streak Washington has yielded an average of 12.25 points per game.
Senior MLB Jaquez Columbus has been a force for the Pack and leads the team with 117 tackles and six sacks.
Junior LB Tarahje Burke is second on the team with 67 stops, while DT Baylone Guilford has 63 and OLB Karim Topping has 62.
With the defense playing sturdy and the offense posting points, ball security and big plays figure to be major factors in tonight’s game.
“We can’t turn the ball over, we did that the first time we played them,” Sawyer said. “Defensively, we just have to cut out the big plays, and on offense we have to let our skill players get the ball in some space and make plays.”
If Washington can do that it will advance to the second round where the winner of the No. 2 Hertford-No. 7 West Carteret game awaits them.