COVINGTON - Turnovers and which Douglass team shows up could be keys to giving the Newton Rams a win at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Lakewood Stadium.
While the Astros have the ability to run the football, they also like to throw it. But Douglass rarely does both evenly in the same game.
"They have a good football team, but the thing about Douglass is you never know which team you're going to get," Newton coach Nick Collins said. "One week they come out and throw the ball an awful lot, then the next week they come out and run it."
Making the Astros such a force when they throw the ball is quarterback Ronald Holiday. At 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, Holiday can easily look over the oncoming rushers and see the field while being hard to bring down. Of course, having a big offensive line blocking doesn't hurt, either.
"They have a quarterback that's unbelievable," Collins said. "He throws the ball so easy and so natural that's it's a beauty to watch. Up front they've got to go 289, 290 apiece. They're not as athletic up front as some of the teams we've played, but all they do is go hard and fast. They make it really, really tough on you."
Making things harder for the Rams defense is dealing with a big team while overcoming injuries. The people filling in will need to be ready to step up.
"Derrick Clark has got to step in and play a lot for us; Gavin Bowman has got to come in and play some at end. We lost our defensive end," Collins said. "Torrian Hunte broke both of his small fingers, so Gavin has to step in and play. We lost our middle linebacker, Davario Parker, so D.J. Hill has got to come in and play. We've got to make those guys understand what we're trying to do."
For the Rams to be victorious, the defense will have to find a way to stop the run. Another key for the defense is to find a way to force turnovers against a Douglass team that has a tendency to lose the football.
"They've been prone to turnovers. That's where we think we may be able to get into the ballgame long enough to try to get us a win," Collins said. "We can't allow them to run the ball. Teams don't throw the ball against us very well.
"Right now our biggest issue is that we just can't let people run the football right down our throats. We'll have to adjust some things up front and move some people around. If we don't stop them from running the football, it's going to be a long night for us."
Offensively, the Rams have to find a way to get the running game in gear. The Rams have proven that they can throw and had more than 300 yards against No. 8 Stephenson last week, but Newton ended up with minus-19 yards rushing.
"Our running game is within us, not anybody else," Collins said. "It doesn't matter who we face, it's a matter of our people being able to create the run.
"Right now we're almost a one-dimensional football team. The one goal we wanted to do was throw the ball well; I guess we've accomplished that. Now, we have to figure out how to run it. We're going to throw the football 25 to 30 times, it's no secret. Somehow or other, we've got to run the football."
Manny Fils can be reached at email@example.com
SideBar: Newton at Douglass
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Lakewood Stadium, 70 Claire Drive, Atlanta
Series: Douglass leads 3-0, Douglass won 27-6 last season
Last week: Newton lost 46-13 to Stephenson; Douglass beat Union Grove 20-14
Records: Newton (1-7 overall, 1-4 region), Douglass (5-3, 3-2)