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8th time the charm?

COVINGTON -- Even though the Newton Rams have yet to win a game in region play, they feel that this could be their week despite playing AP Class AAAAA No. 4 ranked Stephenson at 7:30 tonight.

In their previous seven meeting, Stephenson (5-0, 2-0) has always found a way to win. But Newton head coach Cortez Allen feels like the eighth time could be the charm.

"We always felt that this group was the group that would get us over the hump," Allen said. "We're looking forward to (tonight) to play No. 4 in the state."

According to Allen, the first thing that Newton has to do in order to beat Stephenson is actually believe that they can pull off the win.

"We've been preaching to the kids that right now, you have to believe that we can win this ball game. You have to go out and work hard in practice like you believe you can win the ball game."We have to first mentally prepare and understand and know that we can win the game," Allen said. "I feel like over the years we lacked confidence against Stephenson. Once we get in and realize that they're like our guys we can play with them."The Newton players and not just the coaches have to get the confidence and believe they can get the win over the Jaguars. Once that happens, the players are going to have to take the fight to Stephenson and not wait for Stephenson to gain the momentum.

"We're going to go out and try to do things differently and try to catch them off guard. Then we're going to make sure we maintain our composure. We have to take advantage of certain things they don't do well. A lot of times they rely on talent and not being sound. Because they do that so often, we have to make sure that we're ready to execute and take advantage," Allen said.There is no doubt that the Rams' running game has been the main part of their offense while the passing game has been suspect, with passes that have been off the mark or dropped. However, Newton is ready in case the Jaguars try to take away the run and force Newton to win with the pass."We know that teams are going to try to (take away the run) because we haven't been extremely proficient in throwing the ball. When they start loading the box up with nine or 10 guys, that puts us in a 1-on-1 situation. For our receivers and our quarterback, those are the types of odds that any receiver-quarterback combination would die for. We feel like if they want to stack the box on us to take away the running game, that puts us in a good situation," Allen said.

While Stephenson may be extremely talented, Allen feels that executing the plays is going to be what makes the difference."They're a good football team but they're not unbeatable. We still can do some things that, if we execute, can put them in tough situations. We feel good about our game plan going in. For us, it's all about execution," Allen said. "Being able to go out and execute those things. I think they'll give us the opportunities where we can make some plays on offense. We feel pretty confident with our defense against them. They're not doing anything new. They're the same things we've seen over the last few years."