Newton to be tested before starting region play

COVINGTON -- Hopefully, Newton's football team used its bye week wisely as it worked on the little things which should have a big impact on the rest of the season.

The Rams (2-0) will get to see if their tweaking worked out when they play Northview (1-2) in their final non-region game on Friday at Northview Stadium for their homecoming.

"One thing about playing a team homecoming is that you don't want to be labeled, as we have been in the past few years, as a team that you want to schedule for homecoming," said Newton head coach Cortez Allen. "Hopefully, we've been able to change that mentality. Our kids understand that they have to go out and play that much harder because they are going to be a little bit more amped up and excited to go out and do a few things more special."

During their bye week, the Rams' coaching staff worked on every aspect of the team. They worked with the quarterback Gmatreian Brown on getting better reads of the secondary. They worked with their receivers on making better cuts and other ways to get some distance between the defenders. The running backs worked on keeping their knees and feet high to avoid shoe-string tackles when going through the line of scrimmage as well as doing a better job on defense.

"We covered fundamental areas we felt we could have better improvement in as far as different phases of the game," Allen said. "It's tough because it (bye week) comes early but it gives you the opportunity to hit that long stretch (Region 2-AAAAA play) identifying areas we need to improve on. Plus it gives you a lot of time to get things corrected."

The one area where Allen feels that everything is coming along as it should is the special teams. More specific, his kicker/punter Zach Sullivan.

"We're going to continue to look at Zach grow with his dominance on the special teams. He was named the team player of the week for his play against Eastside. We want to continue to use him as a weapon by putting the kicks in the end zone or pinning the teams deep in their territory on punts," Allen said.

For the Rams to avoid being part of a happy homecoming event, they are going to have to play assignment football to the best of their ability.

While it is easy to say, actually doing it may be harder since Newton does not face the Titans' style of all-out spread football. Even though Newton does not face a lot of option in region play, Allen is going to use this to see what holes his secondary may have.

"One thing we're going to use this game is to tell us where we are coverage-wise when it comes to playing spread teams," Allen said. "We have a few teams that go to the spread but not as much as Northview."

Northview could also throw Newton's offense into turmoil with their 3-5 defense, something the Rams do not see during region play. In order for Newton to move the ball successfully against the Titans, their offensive line will have to find some way to read their whatever is thrown their way.

"It allows us to work against some odd fronts and look at some of the different blitz packages they have coming out of that 3-5. It can give your quarterback and offensive line some difficulties," Allen said.

But no matter what the outcome, the Rams will use this game as a learning experience.

"We're looking to win the ball game, but we want to make sure that we execute in good fashion," Allen said. "Make sure our offense gets off to a good start and we're able to move the ball and be successful in some areas where we didn't click well."