Rams look for defense to lead way

COVINGTON - Newton's philosophy against Redan is simple - here's the ball, now try to do something with it.

Rams coach Nick Collins is betting that his defense will be able to set the tone as the two go head-to-head at 7:30 p.m. today at Homer Sharp Stadium.

"We need to get a quick start; we have to get a quick start. Our goal is to let them have the ball first, hold them, block a punt or a big play on offense and get some momentum going our way," Collins said. "I am confident in my defense. I'll put my defense up against anyone. We want to set the tone defensively. If we can set the tone defensively then that will put us in a position to be successful."

A big part of setting the tone for the game will rest on Newton's secondary. While the Raiders run the ball, with quarterback Akil Dan-Fadio not shy about tucking and running, they also throw the ball against anybody.

Dan-Fadio is 29 of 56 with three touchdowns and is averaging 126 yards per game, 364 total.

His favorite receiver is Javoris Bryant, who has caught 16 of Dan-Fadio's passes for 267 yards.

"You can expect them about every third pass it's going to be deep. They throw the ball to the out routes very well. They're quarterback has a very strong arm so they're going to use that weapon," Collins said.

"They come after everyone. It doesn't matter if it's my secondary or the Falcons secondary they're going to throw the ball deep because that's what they do."

Playing in the secondary for the Rams are Ryan Ford, Trevail Hicks, Bart Lindsey and Deandre Rashada with Chris Dickerson filling in when needed.

While the secondary has done a good job so far with a combined eight interceptions in four games, Dickerson is the true hidden star of the group.

"I think the real sleeper has been Chris Dickerson," Collins said. "Chris is able to come in and play all four spots to spell guys when needed. He has played really well.

"I don't know if we've really been tested, secondary-wise. No one has really come out and tried to establish a passing game on us. From what we've dealt with, we've played fairly well."

Even though Redan only has one win, 22-7 over a 1-4 McNair, Collins said they are better and more dangerous than their record indicates.

"When you watch them, they're so athletic," he said. "They're about as athletic as anybody we'll play."

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

SideBar: If you go

· Who: Redan Raiders (1-3, 0-1) at Newton Rams (2-2, 0-1)

· Where: Homer Sharp Stadium

· When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

· Last week: Redan lost to Union Grove 38-12; Newton lost to Stephenson 13-7 in overtime

· Series: Newton leads 4-3

· Last year: Newton won 42-36