COVINGTON - It's simple for the Newton Rams. They win Friday against Union Grove and next week against Luella, they guarantee themselves third place in Region 2-AAAAA.
However, Newton coach Nick Collins knows that getting past Union Grove (7-1, 4-1) is not going to be an easy task, especially on the road.
"We've faced a couple of teams that kind of do what they do, but we haven't faced anyone that does it as well as they do," Collins said. "When you have a lot of guys that can handle the football well like they do, it makes it tough to defend everything. That's what they make you do from sideline to sideline."
The Wolverines are very good at moving the ball, scoring an average of 29 points per game in their first eight outings. But Newton's defense has shown that it can stop high-scoring offenses.
No. 6 ranked Stephenson, which is averaging 37 points per game, was held to 13 points by the Rams. M.L. King, averaging 25 points per game, was held to 10 points below its average by Newton.
"We feel like we're a defensive ball club. That's one of the things we have confidence-wise," Collins said. "We feel good about our defense and we think that's going to be one of the things that will keep us in the ball game."
While stopping Union Grove from scoring is half the battle, the other half is making sure Newton puts up enough points to keep the Wolverines on their heels.
In order to accomplish that the Rams have to protect the ball and avoid turnovers while doing something they haven't done a lot of this season, come up with big plays.
"We've got to make plays, big plays. That's something this year we haven't really had, is a lot of big plays. We've had good plays, but we've only had a handful of big plays," Collins said.
To make that happen, quarterback Tyree Williams will have to be solid in his decision-making.
Collins said that Williams needs to do everything from making checks at the line of scrimmage to his reads when throwing the football without mistakes.
"It's like I told him this week, a lot of what happens with us hinges on how well he runs our offense," Collins said. "For us to be successful. he has to make some very sound decision and he has to find a way to make some big plays."
Other players on Newton's offense that have to be error free are Akeem Hunt, DJ Hill, Sammy Merchant and Torrian Hunte.
"All four are going to carry the football," Collins said. "If we can establish a run, we can control the line of scrimmage and run the football effectively, it's going to open our ability to throw the football and that's what has to happen.
"For them, they're expected to win. I don't know why but they're expected to win. We want to put them on the defensive. The way we can do that is to attack them early, attack them often and keep the game close or for us to be ahead for the majority of the way to force them to make an attempt at a big play, and hopefully we can make something for us on of it."
SideBar: At a glance
· Who: Newton Rams (5-3, 3-2) at Union Grove Wolverines (7-1, 4-1)
· Where: Union Grove High School, 120 East Lake Road, McDonough
· When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
· Last week: Newton beat to Douglass 24-7; Union Grove lost to Stephenson 27-7
· Series: Union Grove leads 5-0
· Last season: Union Grove won 43-10