Newton faces tough road test at Union Grove

COVINGTON - It's a simple equation for the Newton football team this week.

A win at Union Grove will keep Newton's chances of going to the playoffs alive; a loss will put the Rams behind the eight ball.

"That is what's at hand, winning football games and getting into the playoffs. Our program needs that shot in the arm," Newton coach Nick Collins said. "There's been a lot of pressure from me on our coaches and the coaches to the players."

If the Rams (3-5 overall, 2-3 in 2-AAAAA) are to upset the Wolverines (7-1 overall, 4-1 in 2-AAAAA), they will have to stop Union Grove's running game.

Although the Wolverines can throw the ball, Collins does not feel that Union Grove coach Steve Collins will put the game in the hands of his young quarterback.

"The offense they run is what I like to call a smoke and mirrors offense. They give you this big illusion with formations and motions that they're a throwing team, but in reality they run the football and they run it well," Collins said. "He doesn't take a lot of risky chances. Everything they do is safe. But that offense is such a good offense when you have the right people and they have the right people that they can mix it up well."

One thing that Newton will have that they didn't have last week is depth. Collins is hoping that the return of several key defensive players will make a difference against Union Grove.

Retuning to Newton's lineup are defensive tackles Michael Morgan and Austin Pullen and defensive backs Ryan Ford and Traye Scott.

Although defensive tackle Justice Ejike played last week, he was hurt. This week, Collins is hoping that he will be able to get more out of him.

"We have some healthy people back this week and a couple of guys that were out last week that will now put us in a position where we can be more flexible in what we want to do," Collins said.

Offensively, the Rams have to find a way to add a passing game, or at least the realistic threat of a passing game, to their mix.

Newton also has to take advantage of the Wolverines' quick attacking style of defense.

By using quick passes to the edges, the Rams might loosen up the middle, giving quarterback Demetrius McCray the chance to make things happen running the ball.

"This week we have to take care of ourselves. There's a lot of different scenarios in this," Collins said. "But the bottom line is this, win out and have Douglass lose one and we're in. That's what it comes down to."

Manny Fils can be reached at manny.fils@newtoncitizen.com.

SideBar: Newton at Union Grove

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Wolverine Stadium in McDonough

Series: Union Grove leads 4-0

Last meeting: Union Grove won 56-20 last year