Week two of the football season confirms some of what was learned in week one, also exposes unseen flaws

Published 7:19 pm Monday, August 27, 2018

With the constant turnover of players in high school sports, it can be difficult getting a good read on how well a particular team will do heading into a new season. Looking at the team’s record the prior year and counting the number of returning players helps, but for the most part, it isn’t until the games are finally played that it becomes apparent which teams will compete for conference titles and playoff spots.

Week one of the football season showed that the Pam Pack might be onto something with the talk of winning its conference, Southside’s young team will go through a season of growing pains and Northside’s defense looks capable of carrying the team while the Panthers’ inexperienced players get up to speed at the varsity level. Week two’s slate of games this past Friday continued to confirm some of what was learned in week one, while also tempering some expectations.

Northside’s defense looked stout shutting down Perquimans in the season opener, but week-two opponent North Duplin looked to provide a much tougher adversary. After all, the Rebels ran for 345 yards and six touchdowns in their season opening win over Spring Creek and are coming off of a 14-1 season that ended with a fourth round loss in the playoffs.

The Panthers’ defense didn’t care how highly touted North Duplin was, nullifying the Rebels’ ground attack last Friday, keeping them off the scoreboard and forcing six turnovers in a 22-0 win. Two of those turnovers set up Northside’s offense to score two touchdowns. Playing well against Perquimans was nice, but shutting down North Duplin is eye-opening and shows how strong of a unit the Panthers’ defense is. The ability to generate turnovers and put the offense in short field positions is crucial, as Northside hasn’t been able to produce big plays on offense yet this year.

While the Panthers’ week-two performance confirmed what was seen in the season opener, the Southside Seahawks showed the 61-0 loss to Ayden-Grifton wouldn’t be a trend this season. Similar to week one, the Seahawks started slowly against Dixon last Friday. Southside went down by two scores and it almost became a three-score deficit, but a holding call brought back a Dixon 71-yard touchdown run.

That moment proved pivotal, as the Seahawks forced a punt right after and scored, making the score 12-7 in favor of the Bulldogs, instead of 18-0. From that point forward, you could see Southside’s young players maturing into varsity-level players.

The team’s growth was evident in the Seahawks’ goal-line stand that kept Dixon from scoring right after Southside took the lead in the third quarter, as well as when the Seahawks responded to Dixon taking a 20-19 lead with five minutes remaining in the game by quickly moving down the field to score the game-winning touchdown. While the week-one loss revealed just how young and inexperienced Southside’s team is, the victory over Dixon showed the Seahawks are learning on the fly and shouldn’t be counted out yet.

Washington was another team that showed something different in week two, compared to the game prior. But unlike Southside, the Pam Pack was brought down to Earth against Tarboro, after winning by 40 points in the season opener against East Carteret.

Washington’s goal is to win the conference this season, and it looked like a distinct possibility after the Pam Pack dominated the Mariners in week one. But as the defending state champion Vikings showed in their 48-0 victory over Washington, the Pam Pack still has some more work to do to be considered one of the elite teams.

Washington displayed a strong running game and stout defense against East Carteret. But neither proved to be enough to compete with the likes of Tarboro. The Vikings were too big and powerful for Washington, dominating the line on both sides of the ball. The Viking offensive line routinely pushed back the Pam Pack defensive line and drove the linebackers into the secondary.

Tarboro went undefeated last season on the way to winning the 1A state championship and returned 23 players from last year’s squad, so a defeat doesn’t mean Washington is no good or can’t win its own conference this year. But the big loss does temper some of the expectations that arose from the dominant victory to open the season and shows the Pam Pack is still a work in progress.