Surprises and other fall takeaways

Published 7:25 am Wednesday, September 20, 2023

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I don’t know about you, but I don’t mind surprises, pleasant and unpleasant. Some would say that nothing in the sports world should surprise a sports journalist, because we are always supposed to know what’s going on.

That loud pop you just heard was me poking a hole in that bubble.

To me, the beauty of a sporting event is not knowing what will happen.  We might think we do and sometimes we turn out to be right, but that’s not the point of showing up.

Did anyone in Wagner Stadium Friday night for the Pam Pack home opening really think the score would be 4-0 after the first quarter? Did you also know that the same player, sophomore Calek Smaw, would tackle two different Pamlico County players in the endzone for those four points?

If so, I just dubbed you a genius. Congratulations.

WHS has come a long way in a short time under new coach Matt Taylor and that’s good to see. Two straight wins after an early bye week has evened their record after a dreadful start. A 2-2 record puts them in the same spot they were last year before things went downhill to a 3-7 finish. The defense has played great under new coordinator Steven Allard and former WHS standout Stevie Green has joined the coaching and teaching staff, giving Taylor two more coaches in the building on a daily basis.

The downside to Friday’s win was watching junior linebacker Gabe Davis trying to fight off tears while sitting on the sideline training table after hurting his knee. Davis is the unquestioned defensive leader as his enthusiastic, all-out, nose for the ball approach has rubbed off on his younger teammates.

The good news is that an X-ray showed a less serious injury, while the MRI update is pending. Fingers crossed for the kid. He does everything right and here’s hoping his season isn’t over.

Friday night’s conference home opener against West Craven will tell a lot more about the Pack’s improvement, but two straight wins has them trending upward.

Speaking of other fall surprises, who would have thought that Northside’s two victories so far are more than the rest of the Coastal Plains Conference.

You read that correctly. The Panthers are 2-2 and LeJeune has the other victory.  The standings elsewhere on this page will show that Jones hasn’t even scored this fall, while giving up a whopping 212 points in just four games. Pamlico County, East Carteret and Southside are a combined 0-14 with 97 points between them.

The Seahawks are breaking in young players on the offensive line and at quarterback, probably the two most important parts of a football team. The potential is there, but the struggle is real. I’ll get my first look at Northside Thursday when they host Martin Co.

That brings me to another early surprise. I was startled to know that the new combination of South Creek and Riverside football players is known only as Martin County Football without a nickname. No Knights, Pirates, Cougars, nothing but Martin County Football. Odd, but it will change when the schools themselves merge.

Finally, the biggest surprise in football, if not in all of sports, should be no surprise at this point.

Who saw Coach Prime going 3-0 to start his tenure at the University of Colorado? You did? Call my boss. There could be a job waiting for you.