Washington’s conference-winning JV team ready for next level

Published 6:49 pm Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The 2018 football season couldn’t have gone much better for the Washington JV team, as the Pam Pack won the conference championship after going through league play undefeated, but also accomplished the main goal of the JV coaching staff: preparing the young players to play on Friday nights with the varsity squad.

“It was a pretty good year. Anytime your offense is scoring, we had 224 points over the entire year, and our defense held them close to under 100 (points), I mean it’s a good season,” JV head coach/offensive coordinator Kevin Chapman said. “And of course, our goal is to get these kids ready to play varsity, and I think they’ll be prepared.”

According to Chapman and assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Alex Heck, there were several factors that played into their team finishing 6-2 overall and 5-0 in the 2A Eastern Carolina Conference, including the fact the JV team had a strong freshman class to go along with a sophomore class that provided resolute leadership.

The two coaches said the JV team’s willingness to work, improve and learn as much as possible was what drove the team to success.

“Along with that hard work, we watched film, and the kids watched film themselves and they’ll actually text you throughout the week, ‘I saw this on film, I made this mistake on film,’” Chapman said. “So it shows that they’re being students of the game early as freshmen and sophomores.”

While the Pam Pack ended the season on a six-game winning streak to finish as conference champions, Washington had a turbulent start to the season, falling to Tarboro, 39-9, before blowing a halftime lead against D.H. Conley and eventually losing, 20-15. Both Chapman and Heck agreed that was a crucial part of the season that shaped how the rest of the year played out.

GOING DEEP: JV quarterback Hayes Pippin launches a pass during the Pam Pack’s 42-0 win over Northside. (Ashley Vansant | Daily News)

“It was a big turning point for us,” Heck said. “That really was the defining game of who we were. Usually after the Tarboro game, at least in my two years as far as JV D-coordinator, has been the gut check time. ‘What are we going to be? Who are we? Things haven’t gone exactly our way on defense.’ And then the Conley game has been a battle both years. And then it’s the 0-2 start and it’s ‘All right, now it’s time to find who you are these next games.’ And our kids decided that it was time to find themselves. Thankfully, as a group and as a full staff under (varsity offensive coordinator Perry) Owens and Chap’s vision and (varsity head coach Jon) Blank’s vision and everything, we just kept the course.”

The Pam Pack responded in resounding fashion, posting three consecutive shutout victories, as it defeated Northside, 42-0, Greene Central, 35-0, and Ayden-Grifton, 33-0. Washington followed that up with three more wins to close out the season, taking down Kinston, 49-14, West Craven, 21-12, and North Lenoir, 40-14.

Washington’s varsity head coach Jon Blank is well aware how important the JV team is to building a strong varsity team and is pleased with what he saw from Chapman and Heck’s squad this year.

“The JV team’s success is critical for our program. We’ve intentionally done some things to make sure they’ve got the best coaching and that they were able to keep down all the players that they needed, as long as they weren’t a necessity for the varsity team to succeed,” Blank said. “A winning chemistry and a winning culture produces winning, and we believe with this group, that’s what we’re going to get out of it. They love to play together and they work well together and, for whatever reason, they find a way to win most nights that they’re out there together.”

Two JV players Chapman expects to make an impact on the varsity level next year are running backs Jaden Hambric and Terry Moore, who scored 10 and 12 TDs, respectively, this season. Both already saw some time with Blank’s team this year, and Chapman said if they continue their development, keep hitting the weight room and keep their heads in the books, the duo should be two workhorses in the backfield for the varsity team in 2019.

While playing well on JV helps to set up a player to move to varsity, Chapman and Heck were quick to point out a whole lot more must be done to get the chance to play on Friday nights.

“If the hard work isn’t put in in the offseason, then the right (to play varsity football) isn’t there,” Heck said. “There’s no guarantee that ‘Hey, I’m varsity ready, I’m a varsity guy.’ That’s something you’ve got to earn and that’s earned through what coach Chapman said and what the vision of this program through coach Blank is, is we will work hard. And it’ll start in the classroom and it will trickle right to the weight room, and then what we do outside of the classroom and the weight room.”