Pam Pack rebuild starts in the weight room

Published 4:22 pm Friday, June 9, 2017

Focus and determination are the cornerstones of Washington football’s rebuild. New head coach Jon Blank and his staff is on a mission to bring the program back to the prominence it knew just a few short years ago.

Part of that requires a shift in culture. The team’s motto this season is “all in.” That cultural rebuild started soon after the 2016 campaign came to an end when the athletes got right back to work in the weight room.

New offensive coordinator Perry Owens has been on the forefront of this for Washington. He and other weightlifting coaches have modeled the Pam Pack’s routine after East Carolina, Tarboro, Edenton, East Carteret and other successful programs.

“The boys took a trip to East Carolina. Coach Blank took them,” Owens said. “(Strength and conditioning) coach (Jeff) Connors took them through the weight room. If you look at my weight chart and look at coach Connors’ weight chart, they’re identical. … They’re starting to buy in.”

It’s a four-week cycle with progress tests done every fifth week. The objective is to improve strength through squatting, bench press and the like, while also developing athletic prowess in running the 40-yard dash.

Jaquez Ruffin pushes himself during offseason conditioning. The rising senior is one of many Pam Pack veterans willing to put in the work that will lead to success come August.

Washington struggled through the first half of the athletic season. Pam Pack football and basketball combined for just seven wins and neither made it to the playoffs.

Adversity challenged both teams. This is more than simply training better athletes from a physical standpoint. The coaches are preparing the Pam Pack players to compete, too. There’s as much mental conditioning as physical that goes into it.

“This group is so young and fiery, but in situations in all sports, they get down a little bit and they have the tendency to stay down,” Owens explained. “What we’re doing is we’ll do one-on-one tug-of-wars, tennis-ball drills, tire flips — anything to get them to compete.”

Discipline has been a focal point, too. Owens said that the athletes are all pitching in to make sure that the weight room stays clean and in good shape.

Washington has all the amenities for successful athletic programs. Owens said that this group gearing up for the 2017 season is buying in better than any group he’s had since he coached at Edenton in 2013. They’re taking advantage of the year-old weight room and field house. Each rep, they can look right out the window and see the football field where they will soon reap the benefits of their effort.