COVINGTON - All you have to do is look at the Region 2-AAAAA football standings to know that tonight's clash between Newton and Greenbrier is going to reverberate for the rest of the regular season.
The Rams (3-3 overall, 1-2 in 2-AAAAA) and the Wolf Pack (2-4 overall, 1-2 in 2-AAAAA) are tied with Luella for fourth in the standings. With M.L. King, Stephenson and Union Grove all tied for first at 3-0, tonight's winner in Covington might have the inside track on the No. 4 playoff seed with three weeks left in the season.
"Absolutely, we hold our own destiny and this is the first step in a four-game span to determine, one, if we get in, and two, in which spot," Newton coach Nick Collins said. "I'm worried. We were in this same situation a year ago and fell apart. I am hoping that a year later not only does our team have a better understanding of where we are but also our fans, and just maybe we will finish the deal and they will show us more support."
Last week, the Rams flirted with an upset before falling 15-8 to M.L.. King
Collins doesn't feel like it will be hard for Newton to bounce back from the tough defeat.
"Not tough at all, as disappointed as we are in not winning another close one, we know that there is another game to play this week," Collins said.
Collins expects a tough game from Greenbrier, which is coming off a 33-7 loss to Luella. The Wolf Pack has struggled to get its offense going this season, averaging just nine points a game. In fact, Greenbrier has scored more than seven points in only of its games this season, a 27-12 non-region victory over Harlem.
In its only region win so far, the Wolf Pack beat Douglass 7-2.
"I expect a tough game. Greenbrier poses a challenge for us because of the number of formations they give you, which causes a lot of adjustments, so we have to be very focused and pay close attention to the details of the game plan," Collins said. "We can't make mistakes on defense and give up big plays."
Offensively, Collins believes his team's ground game will be critical to its success against Greenbrier.
"(We have to) run the ball," Collins said. "We have to establish the running game early so that we are able to throw the ball when needed."
The Rams come into tonight averaging 22 points a game, while Greenbrier's defense is surrendering 24 points a contest.
Tonight's game is also Breast Cancer Awareness Night for Newton. All fans are asked to wear pink to the game.
Prior to the kickoff, all cancer survivors are invited to participate in an end zone to end zone survival walk.
There will be opportunities to purchase pink ribbons as well as make donations to breast cancer research.
During the game, the Newton coaching staff will wear pink caps and shirts, while selected players will wear pink wristbands, shoe strings, shoes or gloves.
Jeff Gillespie can be reached at email@example.com.
SideBar: If you go
· Who: Greenbrier Wolf Pack (2-4 overall, 1-2 in Region 2-AAAAA) at Newton Rams (3-3 overall, 1-2 in Region 2-AAAAA)
· Where: Homer Sharp Stadium, Covington
· When: Tonight, 7:30
· Last week: Greenbrier lost 33-7 to Luella, Newton lost 15-8 to M.L.. King
· Series: Newton leads 1-0
· Last year: Newton won 28-14