In the 8th Grade Unlimited Division of the Piedmont Youth Football and Cheer League, the Pfafftown Packers have emerged as overachievers. The team is comprised mostly of players who up until this year had never played organized ball before.
The lack of experience, however, hasn’t produced woeful results. Entering the final week of the regular season, the Packers are 4-3 and will end up as a third or fourth seed in the PYFCL playoffs, which begin on Oct. 26.
“For us, the high point for the season is simply winning games,” said Coach Carl Potter. “We have so many kids who had no playing experience, so it was like putting together a team from scratch. Opposing teams have players with more experience, but we still got to the point where we’re over the .500 mark and we’re headed to the playoffs. That’s what pleases me most about our team’s progress and growth.”
It remains to be seen how the Packers will respond in postseason play. As a third or fourth seed, the Packers will face either the top-seeded Tiny Rams or the No. 2 seed Durham Titans. During the regular season, the Packers suffered blow-out losses to both teams. Potter is hopeful that the Packers will make the necessary adjustments to stay in contention against whoever they face in the playoffs.
The Packers are most effective when they rely on their inside running game to wear defenses down and keep opposing offenses off the field. De’Vante LeGrande is the featured back who does his best work when running between the tackles.
“De’Vante is the spark,” said Potter. “All his teammates look up to him. When he’s on the field, everybody gets that feeling that we always have a legitimate chance to win.”
When opponents focus on stopping LeGrande, the Packers get solid production from Frank Hines. A big plus for the Packers is the presence of burly Khalib Pettigrew, who excels as a formidable lead blocker coming out of the backfield.
In last week’s 40-0 loss to the Titans, the Packers contributed heavily to their own demise. Poor field position and two first-half turnovers led to four Titans scores and the Packers, down by 26-0 at intermission, never recovered.
“We’re still learning how to play to our strengths,” said Potter. “We have the size and strength to do well as a power running team. That’s when we’re at our very best. When we do that and combine it with our quick passing game, that’s what puts us in the best position to win games. We’ll continue to work on that and hopefully, it will make a big difference when we get to the playoffs.”