COVINGTON - The Rams can't let Redan's 0-3-1 record fool them when they face the Raiders Friday at Panthersville Stadium.
"I always tell them you have to be careful," Newton coach Nick Collins said. "But there's a reason they're 0-3-1 (0-1 Region 2-AAAAA), and there's a reason I feel we can beat them. Redan's a good football team, don't get me wrong. But Redan's a football team that can be beat."
The Rams (1-3, 0-1) have to do three things in order to beat the Raiders.
Newton must control the line of scrimmage in order to control the football. The Rams also have to eliminate turnovers and prevent Redan from making big plays.
"They're not going to come out and dominate us," Collins said. "They're going to give us big plays. They're going to throw a long touchdown pass or they're going to break some tackles and get a long run. We've got to eliminate that."
Collins said Redan will throw deep within their first five plays. Within the first 10 plays, they will also try to run a reverse.
"They're going to do those things, and we have to make sure that we're in a position to stop them from doing it," he said.
Despite the setback with last week's loss, the team is still moving in a positive direction considering the Rams held Stephenson to 25 points, compared to the 33 points they've been averaging, and they had shutout wins in their first two games.
"We're definitely pleased with how we're progressing," Collins said. "Most of this game is mental, and to achieve it, you have to believe it. Right now the kids are starting to believe it."
Newton is going to do something that they've gotten away from in the last couple of games - establish the run.
The Rams have proven that they have the confidence to throw the ball with Demeterius McCray taking the snaps.
"We've got to get back to running the football the way our offense is designed to run it," Collins said. "If we can run the football effectively, like we ran it the previous three weeks, we're going to be in good shape."
However, in order to run the ball effectively, Quinton Pooler is going to have to let his potential match his output.
If Pooler is not up to the challenge, Collins is ready to have someone else take his place.
"I don't think to date, we have seen Quinton play very well," Collins said. "The potential is there, but we haven't seen it. He's going to step up. For us to go forward, either he's going to have to play a lot bigger for us or we're going to have to go to the next guy."
The running game is important because it is the underlying theme for Newton's game plan.
"Where we can control the football game is up front. Watching them play, they're not as strong as I've seen some Redan teams; they're not as athletic," Collins said. "They show athleticism, but based on technique we can control the game up front. If we do that, there's no reason why we can't win."
Manny Fils can be reached at email@example.com.
SideBar: If You Go
Who: Newton Rams (1-3) at Redan Raiders (0-3-1)
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Panthersville Stadium, Decatur
Last week: Newton lost to Stephenson 25-7; Redan lost to Union Grove 36-20
Last meeting: Redan beat Newton 36-6
Series: Tied at 3-3