Stepping Up: Week 3 parallels

Published 4:29 pm Tuesday, August 30, 2016

There are two major parallels to Week 3 of last year’s high school football season as the third week of this season approaches. One local team will hope things unfold in a similar way while the other is hoping for a change from last year.

Washington opened its 2015 campaign with consecutive losses to Havelock and Tarboro just like it did this year. The Pam Pack was obliterated, 50-13, by the Rams and then dropped a 26-7 decision to the Vikings — both at home. The boys then turned around and upset Conley, 35-34, on the road in their third game of the year.

The win marked a turning point. The Pam Pack went on to win four of its next five games, only dropping a close 20-14 game against Kinston, which finished the season as runner up to state champion Shelby.

Washington’s conference slate featured a 53-13 stomping of Southwest Edgecombe, which, along with Beddingfield, finished tied with the Pam Pack for the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference championship.

That was one of coach Sport Sawyer’s messages to the team after its 28-0 loss at Tarboro this past Friday. The offense showed promise by marching down the field to start the third quarter. While the Pam Pack offense hasn’t notched a point through two games, the pieces are clearly there.

The Holton Ahlers-led Vikings will be another tough challenge in Washington’s early-season gauntlet, but that was the case last year, too. The opportunity is on the table, once again, for the Pam Pack to shock the area with a big win that could give it momentum to bounce back.

There’s a parallel to 2015 in the way Northside has started its season, too. The Panthers, unlike the Pam Pack, opened the season with back-to-back wins. They fell off from there and lost nine in a row — including their regular-season finale at a then-winless Lejeune club — to finish the year 2-9.

Northside is again off to a 2-0 start after convincing wins against Creswell and North Duplin. The season’s first big test comes Friday when the Panthers travel to local rival Southside. This meeting, which won’t count toward either team’s 1-A Coastal Plains Conference ranking, is the first of two this season.

There has been a lot of optimism within Northside’s program this year. The Panthers bring back nearly every key cog from last year’s underwhelming team. With that and the addition of size upfront, coach Keith Boyd has his sights set on an eight-win campaign.

Southside will be no easy opponent. Even without Matt Baxter and Lawrence Brown, the likes of Zikajah Crawford and Joe Myers are taking over in relatively the same offensive system — one that they’ve spent plenty of time learning. Northside’s massive front will be tested on both sides of the ball as it tries to halt the Seahawks’ ground attack while opening gaps for Jackson Midgette, James Barrow and company.

Washington is hoping that Week 3 will unfold in a similar way that last year’s did. Northside is hoping it can ignore the parallels and rewrite history a bit.