Stepping Up: Confidence flowing freely in Beaufort County

Published 2:39 pm Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Beaufort County’s three football teams should have plenty of confidence to slingshot them into the second week of the season. It’s a good thing because all three squads will need it. Northside and Southside both take to the road for the first time. Meanwhile, Washington hosts a formidable Tarboro team for its home opener.

The Pam Pack was the only of the three area teams not to pick up a win in Week 1, but it did come close. A potent East Carteret offense was able to surmount a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit in a 28-27 win.

This season is about Washington rebuilding its once-prominent program. It showed quickly that it’s on the right path. The Pam Pack scored more points in its first game this season than it did in its first four outings combined a year ago. New offensive coordinator Perry Owens’ attack plan produced, and the offense likely wasn’t quite in sync right off the bat.

Hykeem Ruffin, Washington’s 210-pound power running back, thrived in the system as he scored three times. His ability to muscle the ball downfield will be put to the test against the dominant front Tarboro typically fields.

Northside’s Johnathan Clark was another local running back that shined in the first week of the season. His two fourth-quarter touchdowns fueled the Panthers as they went from trailing 18-6 in the final 12 minutes to winning 22-18.

The thrilling comeback captivated fans in Pinetown, but Northside’s task at North Duplin on Friday will be putting together a complete game. The Panthers were stagnant on offense and oftentimes couldn’t takedown a slippery Perquimans quarterback when faced with the opportunity.

Making plays from start to finish will be the goal in Week 2. That’s how the Panthers started 4-0 in 2016 en route to their best season in a decade.

No team looked better than Southside did against Ayden-Grifton. The Seahawk defense swarmed a sluggish Charger group in a 26-0 shutout. It marked another in a long list of statement wins — many of which were spearheaded by stellar defense — from Southside in its years of consistent excellence.

Southside was the closest to playing a complete game. Northside and Washington should each go into Friday feeling good about where they are now, too. The Seahawks have thrived, creating a culture in which they know what it takes to win. Those Panthers that are stepping into greater roles this season — especially on offense — saw what it takes to win last season. They put that experience to use in the second half against Perquimans, outscoring the Pirates 22-6 in the latter 24 minutes.

The Pam Pack is getting there. A win against Tarboro is going to be a tall order, but showing the kind of improvement that was evident at East Carteret to the fans in “Choppy” Wagner Stadium can go a long way.

Let the confidence built in Week 1 flow freely, driving improvement in practice this week and propelling the Pam Pack, Panthers and Seahawks into this Friday.