Stepping Up: What to expect from preseason in Beaufort County

Published 8:11 am Monday, July 31, 2017

There was a different sound in the air this morning. On football fields around Beaufort County, pads crunching into one another drowned out the tune of birds chirping.

Today marked the beginning of preseason football practice. All local teams have put in plenty of work since the spring and throughout the summer. Now, players for this upcoming season are mandated to report as preparations begin.

After all, the season opens in less than three weeks. Washington, Northside and Southside all have a lot to accomplish before Aug. 18.

Each local team enters the preseason with different objectives. The Pam Pack has had rather consistent numbers at workouts all summer long, which they needed. Coach Jon Blank and his staff are emphasizing a cultural shift that requires more discipline from not only the players, but also the coaches.

The spring and summer afforded Washington an opportunity to get acclimated to adjustments that are expected when the team has a new head coach and offensive coordinator, among other staff changes. Defensive players — especially those returning from last season — should already have an idea of Blank’s expectations, seeing as he served as defensive coordinator prior to assuming the head-coach role.

Offensively, though, many of the Pam Pack’s most important players have had many opportunities to get used to first-year coordinator Perry Owens. Scrimmaging in 7-on-7 settings even allowed them to get used to his play calling in live action.

Southside, too, had good numbers throughout the summer. Coach Jeff Carrow and the Seahawks now set their sights on the next step to continuing down the road that has led them to back-to-back regional-championship appearances.

Southside hasn’t been known to throw the ball a lot, but Carrow insists that junior quarterback Will Warren will allowed the Seahawks to air the ball out more than in years past. They got to test out their aerial offense during a recent 7-on-7 that featured top-notch teams like new conference foe Riverside and a 2-A club in Farmville Central.

If nothing else, it was a chance to learn and gauge where that aspect of their offense is. It also gave Southside’s defense opportunities to defend the pass against a group like the Knights that thrived in the air.

With all hands on deck and contact allowed, this is when Southside gets to hash out its typical ground-and-pound offense. The Seahawks have some of the most interesting position battles in the county. As always, there’s an abundance of talent at running back. It will also be intriguing to watch an athletic defensive-backs corps duke it out, and how an experienced group of linebackers replaces the leadership of Hunter Sparks.

Northside appears to have the most to figure out over the next two and a half weeks. The Panthers were missing most of their upperclassmen this summer. However, younger players and newcomers showed up in numbers. It gave coach Keith Boyd and company a chance to focus on the newer crop of talent more than he otherwise would have.

One would imagine that they would have a leg up on some of the older players that didn’t get much work in over the summer. It could create plenty of position battles with as many openings as Northside has — especially on offense.

There aren’t nearly as many openings on the defensive side of the ball. The duo of Parker Boyd and Cameron Cahoon will likely lead the front, while Matthew Marslender — who is also expected to slot in at quarterback — will hold things down in the back.

The beginning of preseason workouts always creates anticipation for the season. Few are as ready to get under the lights on Aug. 18 as the players and coaches. After months of work, those sounds of pads colliding is enough to reinvigorate anyone.