Friday Football Preview: Washington and Southside both involved in league ties

Published 6:30 pm Thursday, October 29, 2015

MAKING THE CUT: Washington running back Suae Poe evades a Tarboro defender. His prowess moving the ball on the ground will be important in the Pam Pack bounding back against North Pitt.

MAKING THE CUT: Washington running back Suae Poe evades a Tarboro defender. His prowess moving the ball on the ground will be important in the Pam Pack bounding back against North Pitt.

Football season is winding down, which means the race towards the top of the conference standings is heating up. Washington hoped to get a stranglehold on the top spot in the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference last week, but Beddingfield pitched a second-half shutout en route to a 19-12 win.

Nothing is out of reach for the Pam Pack yet. No, they won’t go undefeated in league play for a third consecutive season. After graduating 26 seniors from last year’s squad, coach Sport Sawyer is more focused on making sure his team plays sound football. To do so, they have to correct the mistakes that plagued them in the second half against the Bruins.

“We had some turnovers and lack of focus in some areas,” Sawyer said. “We’ve got to make sure we come out focused at the very beginning … A lot of it is the mental aspect. You prepare for the physical part for months, but you’re going to get beat from time to time. It’s that mentally we weren’t in the right spot or doing the right things.”

Rebounding this week is certainly in the cards. Washington has only lost back-to-back games once since 2012. That season, the Pam Pack first lost a one-possession game to West Craven before falling to eventual 3-A state champion Havelock.

Southside finds itself in almost the same situation. The Seahawks had the chance to solidify their spot atop the 1-A Coastal Plains Conference standings. Instead, they fell in a 62-42 shootout with East Carteret, which now sits at No. 1 in the league.

Bouncing back isn’t something unfamiliar to the Seahawks, either. They went all last season without conceding consecutive games. The team is made up of 24 upperclassmen. They have the maturity to put a loss behind them and focus on the next game.

Wins this week will help both Washington and Southside break out of ties in their respective conferences. Washington is one of two 2-1 teams in its league while the Seahawks are part of a three-way tie going into Friday.



Location: Bethel

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Rebounding from last week’s loss to Beddingfield is the objective when Washington travels to North Pitt. The Panthers have struggled this season and are still seeking their first league win. Their two non-conference wins have come against struggling opponents in South Central and Northside.

The Panthers’ offense has struggled. They’ve been shutout in four of nine contests this season and are coming off a six-point showing against North Johnston last week. The Pam Pack defense, which has lived by its athleticism, won’t look too undersized against a relatively small North Pitt offensive line. Center Ja’quan Witherspoon weighs in at 295 pounds and is the biggest of the linemen by over 30 pounds.

The visiting Pam Pack should have no problem moving the ball on the ground. They’ll be able to attack in different ways. Lexroy Brown can attack using his raw strength while backs like Suae Poe and Jarquez Keyes can use capitalize using their speed and athleticism.

They key will be beating Panther defensive lineman Brian Smith, who has been the most consistent member of his team’s defense.




Location: Big Mitchell Stadium

Time: 7 p.m.

Southside got a taste of East Carteret’s dominant offense last week. Now it’s Northside’s turn.

Brennan Lewis enters Bing Mitchell Stadium with 3,347 passing yards for 32 touchdowns. Senior Robert Johnson is his favorite target. He’s hauled in 56 passes for 1,176 yards and five touchdowns. But the Panthers can’t afford to devote too much coverage to him.

Malik Collins and Maceo Donald have each caught nine touchdown passes and are poised to surpass the 1,000-yard mark by the end of the season.

East Carteret’s defense hasn’t been top notch this year. It conceded 42 points to Southside last week. After scoring once against Jones Senior last week, Northside should be able to capitalize on some of the Mariners’ inconsistencies.

On top of that, if the Panthers limit turnovers, this game could be a little closer than most would expect. Ball security has been a problem as of late and could make it easier for East Carteret to run away with the game.




Location: Chocowinity

Time: 7 p.m.

East Carteret was a stiff challenge in the way of Southside’s bid for an undefeated season. The good news is that the Seahawks shouldn’t struggle too much to rebound against a winless Lejeune club.

The Devil Pups will travel to Chocowinity having scored just five touchdowns in eight games this season. They’ve been held off the scoreboard five times — just as many times as they’ve found the end zone.

Meanwhile, Lejeune’s defense has surrendered an average of 44 points a game. Its best defensive outing was in Week 2 when the Devil Pups gave up 21 points to Spring Creek.

Look for the Seahawks to exploit that struggling defense with their exceptional run game. Lawrence Brown has been a catalyst running the ball, but they also have threatening backs in Amari Peele, Matt Baxter and Brandon Sullivan.

Things could get out of hand early if Southside’s front seven comes out aggressive. Invading the Lejeune backfield can yield good field position, whether it’s via turnovers or forcing the visitors to go three-and-out. The offense will have no problem capitalizing on that field position.