After losing a number of key pieces from an offense that helped Northside to a second-place region finish a year ago, there was always going to be some level of a learning curve early in the 2016 season.
How would the Patriots replace running back Kalan Watts and the underappreciated quarterback Levi Dunn? How would the unit be able to maintain the consistent production that marked its team a year ago.
Many of the questions remain unanswered of the team opened with a 25-7 win over Kendrick two weeks ago. Coach Morgan Ingram said his first takeaway was that the unit was too inconsistent and needed to find a way to improve in that area quickly.
One of the major bright spots, though, was David Apiag, who has been a versatile weapon for the past couple of years for the Patriots. With so many roles to fill this season, though, Apiag may quickly become the X-factor on the offensive side of the ball.
In the first game, he took snaps at running back, in the slot and at quarterback. He was arguably the most productive at each of the three positions.
“David is a guy we’ll run in a lot of spots,” Ingram said. “We want to get it in his hands in a lot of different ways and hopefully he can make some things happen. He’s shown he can over the years.”
Apiag said that it’s something he’s been working on with the team over the offseason. He practiced at all three positions and said the plan was to use whatever the defense is allowing on that drive.
“I like being on the field, and as long as we score or get a win, it doesn’t matter what I’m doing,” he said.
He can do it all, too. He lacks size, but sports a lot of speed and agility that allows him to find and hit holes that most others cannot.
“I’ve always been small,” he said. “I’m not tall, so I just try to use my quickness to my advantage and hit holes that other people might not see or be able to hit.”
It isn’t just about Apiag, though, Ingram said. While Apiag eases the pressure on the other pieces stepping up on offense, he said he needs to see more consistency on the line and across the offense as a whole.
“He’s a guy I can move to different spots and know that I’m going to get an A-plus effort everywhere,” Ingram said. “He’s a big part of our offense, but the bottom line is that we need more consistent play from everyone.”
Northside faces Spencer on Thursday night, a team that blanked the Patriots a season ago. Apiag said Northside was overconfident against the Greenwave last year, but that they won’t make that mistake again.
“We know this is a good team,” he said. “We have to be at our best.”