Washington seeks confidence after bye week

Published 5:23 pm Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Frustration began to set in after a 44-7 thumping at the hands of Conley on Sept. 5. The loss saw Washington fall to 0-3 on the season, and one of the few silver linings was that the Pam Pack finally notched its first points of the season — a 22-yard touchdown run by Suae Poe.

The team’s bye week couldn’t have come at a better time. The boys needed to step back and retool their offense just as much as they needed a mental reset.

“We’ve been down. The players have been a little frustrated, coaches are frustrated and our fans are frustrated,” coach Sport Sawyer said. “We want to win and we want to be successful. It’s been tough. We’ve played three really good teams and, right now, we’re a little bit unsure of ourselves mentally. We want to make sure that, mentally, our guys are staying focused and have a little fun.”

Washington opened the season with road games at Havelock and Tarboro before hosting Conley in its home opener. All three of those are teams that can make some noise in the playoffs later on in the year.

That’s not to say that Washington can’t. There’s a lot of football left to play between now and the Nov. 4 season finale. The Pam Pack is only three games into an 11-game season. There are three non-conference games ahead and an entire five-game 2-A Eastern Plains schedule left to play.

“There’s a big picture in football,” Sawyer said. “We hate — absolutely hate — being 0-3, but the big picture is December. We want to be playing in December. We’ve got a lot of new kids in new positions and they’ve been thrown in the fire. So, we look at those teams and we’ve taken some big shots. Right now, we’re looking at confidence.”

It’s a tough message for Sawyer to relay. Yes, these are athletes banging each other around in a grown man’s sport, but they’re also children ages 18 and younger. The toughest games of the season may very well be behind them, but getting outscored 110-7 through three games can shake anyone’s confidence.

The Pam Pack is dead set on preparing for Friday’s game against Roanoke Rapids now. Gaining confidence was the primary focus of last week. However, players can only gain so much confidence during practice. A lot of it comes from what they do under the lights on Friday nights.

“You’ve got to build confidence by knowing what you’re doing, but then on Fridays, you’ve got to execute it,” Sawyer said. “They’re doing that. I like what we’re doing. … It’s just about making and executing plays.”

Confidence has been the main objective, but Sawyer has also spent time retooling the Pam Pack’s offense. It may stick to the ground a bit more based on what he’s seen from the offensive line.

“I like Mason Vick. At center, he’s challenged himself. He wants to run some guard traps and things, so that shows some leadership. We’ve moved guys around. Logan Craft is doing well. Raekwon Ross, Mitchell Cobb, too. We had a guy get hurt, Logan Nichols, so Jacob Harris is getting a shot at guard.

“The guys are starting to buy in and they’re getting a little confidence.”

After a week off, Washington travels to Roanoke Rapids on Friday. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.