Washington, Southside host midnight exhibitions

Published 3:29 am Saturday, August 5, 2017

Cool air, bright lights beaming down, and the sweet sound of pads colliding — Friday evening had all the makings of a midseason football game, even though season openers are still two weeks away.

Washington and Southside wrapped up their first weeks of the preseason with midnight workouts and intra-squad scrimmages. Both were open for fans to come get a peek at how their favorite teams may look come Aug. 18.

The whole day was a sort of celebration for the return of football. Washington focused on its community and fan base. The Seahawks looked inward as they fixated on team chemistry and relationships.

Hykeem Ruffin gets wrapped up at the legs as he runs the ball on Friday night.

Seahawks spend end of week bonding

Southside held an afternoon practice prior to its midnight session on Friday. Between the two, the Seahawks had a team meal and spent some time unwinding. The time they spent getting to know each other included a talent show.

Head coach Jeff Carrow singled out lineman Teddy Minor’s dancing as his favorite performance.

“It’s great. We feed on this every year,” Carrow said. “We’ve done this the past two years. It’s gone really well. The kids look forward to it, get pumped up being under the lights. It’s growing into a big tradition for the kids.”

After a night of having fun with one another, the Seahawks took the field and lined up to compete. The defense, led by coordinator Andrea Quinerly, squared off against Carrow’s offense. As expected, the defense was ahead of the curve. Front men like Minor made it tough for the offense to move the ball on the ground.

The offense began finding its groove after about a dozen snaps. Amari Peele, after a season off, displayed some of his shiftiness running the ball. Will Warren started to get some synergy going with receivers, too. It wasn’t long after that the offense found the end zone.

“It’s wonderful. It’s wonderful just to get under the lights,” Carrow said. “You still get that feeling as soon as you walk out. It’s good for the coaches, and it’s good for the kids.”

Hykeem Ruffin gets wrapped up at the legs as he runs the ball on Friday night.

Washington closes long day with scrimmage

Washington was going non-stop on Friday. The Pam Pack went from its afternoon practice into its annual Meet the Pack event. Family, friends, and fans gathered for player and coach introductions. The event featured dinner and a speech from former Washington, ECU and NFL player Terrance Copper.

The day, and first week of preseason, peaked with the team hosting an intra-squad clash. Defenses generally settle in before the finesse and skill on offense can catch up. This proved especially true as coordinator Perry Owens’ offense experienced some growing pains.

Head coach Jon Blank’s defense was able to stymie its opposition earlier. Players emerged on offense as the night went on, though. Blank has been looking for playmakers to emerge on his defense, and he saw one on Friday.

“Jaquez Ruffin is the man. He played just about every position on defense when we were subbing people in and out,” Blank said. “He made the best tackles of the night. I think we found some guys. They just have to accept the role of being that guy.”

Offensively, Hykeem Ruffin ran the ball with power. Kaci Foreman also continued to show improvement in learning the system.

“It was a long day, but we’re also a 3-8 team that’s been predicted to finish sixth out of seven in the conference,” Blank said. “It’s a team that still has to find its identity. It’s a team that has to find out who the man is.”

Blank lauded quarterback Frederick Holscher’s showing, too. Energy may have been somewhat absent for various reasons, but spectators were treated to what’s shaping up to be an improving Pam Pack squad.