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Newton goes for second region win, No. 4 playoff spot

COVINGTON -- It's amazing what can happen in a week. Newton's football team went from playing just to end the season to playing with a chance to make the playoffs as the No. 4 spot from Region 2-AAAAA. All they need is a little help from their friends.

"With Westlake beating East Coweta and us beating Westlake, if everything goes as planned, it would put us all in a three-way tie for the last spot," said Newton head coach Cortez Allen.

The first thing that has to happen in order for everything to fall in place is that the Rams would have to beat Langston Hughes (2-6, 0-5) Friday and beat Luella (4-4, 1-4) next week.

The other factors, which are out of Newton's hands but look favorable to happen, are that East Coweta would have to lose both to GACA Class AAAAA No. 3-ranked M.L. King and to Newnan, whose only region loss is to GACA Class AAAAA No. 4-ranked Stephenson. Plus, Westlake would have to beat Luella and Langston Hughes. Luella's only region win was a 20-13 decision over Langston Hughes.

"If those things go as planned, we'll slide into the playoffs based on winning percentage in (non region) Class AAAAA games. We have wins over two AAAAA teams, Shiloh (21-0) and Northview (36-21), Westlake lost to Colquitt County (21-10) and East Coweta only played Pebblebrook (27-13)," Allen said. "They won that game but we played two, so based on that we have the higher percentage."

One thing that Allen noticed is that the players are practicing with a little bit of extra enthusiasm. It wasn't that they weren't giving it all they had before, but now they seem to be giving it with a sense of purpose.

"The difference between last year and this year is that these kids never packed it in. They come out on Mondays and do a great job no matter with a win or a loss (on Friday). They do a great job of putting things behind them. We're excited about the opportunities and the kids are excited, too," Allen said. "The kids had a really good practice (Tuesday), exactly where they should be this time of the year."

The team already had one thing to play for; now they have the possibilities of the playoffs as well. The other thing the Rams are playing for is Javonte Williams. Williams could become the first player since the early 2000s to break the 1,000-yard season rushing barrier. By helping Williams achieve that goal, it will also help the Rams achieve another goal when they play Langston Hughes.

"We look to be able to control the clock and really run the ball. Javonte is about 200 yards away from hitting that 1,000-yard mark. That's tremendous for him and he's worked really hard. He's carried the load for us offensively this year running the football," said Allen.

Even though Williams came off the field last week a little gingerly after rushing for 90 yards on 20 carries and scoring three touchdowns, Allen said he is in good shape and was taken out of the game as a precaution since he was not needed anymore that evening.

Even though the Panthers are very athletic, Allen feels that his team will win the battle at the line of scrimmage. Also making him feel good about the matchup is the fact that Langston Hughes offense is very simplistic and they have always done well against teams with that type of offense.

"If we get a chance to stay away from major mistakes, we feel real good about the game. We had six sacks against Westlake and four against M.L. King. We're able to put a lot of pressure on the quarterback even when we didn't sack the quarterback," said Allen.

"We've been doing a great job these past few weeks. I was thoroughly impressed with our defense. Everybody has stepped up, carrying the load offensively and on defense."