COVINGTON -- Even if Westlake and Newnan have to win their games, it will not do Newton any good unless they control their destiny by beating Luella in the final game of the season on Friday at Homer Sharp Stadium.
A short three weeks ago it did not seem like this was possible as the Rams (5-4 overall, 2-4 in Region 2-AAAAA), were in the middle of a four-game losing streak. But after their 21-7 win over Westlake the team is playing with renewed emphasis. Before that all the team was playing for was a chance to go out with a winning season for the third year in a row. The last time that happened was under Dan Spier in the 1981-83 seasons when they went 7-3, 6-4-1 and 6-5.
"I didn't want them to just play for that. With 15, 16, 17-year-old kids, that may not mean much to them," said Newton head coach Cortez Allen.
"I want them to know that they're playing for (playoffs). We started out a couple of weeks ago going into the Westlake game on a new road saying to ourselves lets get off this four game skid and get back on the winning streak. We're going in the right direction right now. I don't want them to feel like we're just trying to go out and have another winning season."
While Newton needs to make sure they get their running game started, Allen wants to make sure Javonte Williams is a part of that. Williams is only 15 yards shy of becoming the first running back to break the 1,000-yard season barrier since Greg Lackey achieved that goal in the late 90s. Williams almost reached that plateau last week against Langston Hughes when he rushed for 218 on 24 carries and had two touchdowns.
While 15 yards is possible for Williams to gain, the Rams are going to have to do much better than that if they want to do their part of in making it to the playoffs
"I look forward to making things happen and taking care of our side and let everything else take care of itself," said Allen.It's going to take a very disciplined Newton team to top Luella (4-5, 1-5) despite their record. The Lions have been able to keep themselves close in a lot of games by taking advantage of the opposing defense. Solo tackles are going to be important for the Rams to avoid the predicament of a possible loss.
Last week against Langston Hughes, the Rams defensive coach learned that they are susceptible to slow-developing plays like a screen. For the Rams to avoid that from happening again they need to stay where they belong and not give up the big play.
"We've given up big plays all year long. Some of them were not enough to hurt us but in other games they were big enough to break our backs. One thing we've been stressing in to make sure they're sure tacklers and get tot he ball to create turnovers. Last week they gave our offense a short field and we score 14 points," Allen said.
"We're at a point in the season right now where we play pretty solid defense. Our game plan with these guys is pretty status quo to what we've been doing in the past few weeks."