COVINGTON - Of all the local teams that lost last week, none is more eager to get back on track than Newton.
After all, the Rams (2-4 overall, 1-2 in Region 2-AAAAA) were absolutely flattened by the visiting M.L. King Lions 56-0.
But this week poses a different kind of challenge as Newton travels to Greenbrier (1-5 overall, 0-3 in 2-AAAAA) on Friday.
"One of the things you've got to understand, as a growing program, you're going to reach certain levels," Newton coach Nick Collins said. "M.L. King is in a very good situation (because) they are the best program in that area, and they continue to get the best players to come to their school, so they're on a different level right now. We're still growing. We only have seven seniors. We're playing a varsity schedule with kids who in most places would be on a junior varsity team, and they're playing well, which is the amazing thing. So there's hope for the future."
For Greenbrier coach Brian Smith, he would rather that hope come later for Newton than sooner.
"We've had some blowouts ourselves," Smith said. "I don't think you can judge a team by one game. I'm confidant Newton has learned from their mistakes they made against M.L. King."
In six games, Newton is averaging 16.3 points while allowing 27.3.
Collins said getting on the scoreboard early is imperative.
"What I'd like to see happen is us go out on defense and get a quick three and out, get the football and march right down and score," he said.
In order for that to happen, several factors must occur - some that were lacking against M.L. King.
"I don't think the story changes any," Collins said. "One, we've got to be able to run the football; that's what we decided we were going to do. We've got to make big plays on defense. We can't let them complete third down passes. They throw the ball well. We can't miss tackles. We had far too many (against M.L. King). And we can't lose the kicking game battle."
None is perhaps more important than special teams. Against M.L. King, Newton had six punts for just 101 yards (16.8 average), including one blocked punt.
"I think our kids understand to a degree where we need to go," Collins said. "It's a different feel - the preparation this week is already different than it was last week because they have that confidence again. As kids, it's just like picking a fight; you don't pick a fight with somebody who you think can beat you. Right now, they look at this situation that (Greenbrier) is a team we know we can beat instead of a team we've got to play real hard to beat."
Without question, the Rams will have a stronger lineup against the Wolfpack. Three players who were on the sidelines last week - Devario Parker (guard), Bart Lindsey (defensive back) and Akeem Hunt (halfback) - will be available to start.
"They are integral parts of what we do," Collins said. "Hopefully, those guys are going to play big for us."
Though Newton quarterback Demetrius McCray remains the starter, Tyree Williams is expected to see playing time.
"Demetrius is our quarterback, and he's doing exceptionally well," Collins said. "But we want to get him to do other things offensively. So, that's why Tyree must be ready to play. It's time that he gave us some production at quarterback. We're playing for the present, but we're also playing for the future. Before we completely lose him and his ability to get things done, he's going to have to come in, possibly as early as the second series."
Jason Murdock can be reached at email@example.com.
SideBar: Newton at Greenbrier
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Wolfpack Field
Series: First meeting