COVINGTON -- Newton knows that it's going to have a battle on its hands as it tries to avoid having Newnan return the favor after the Rams ruined Newnan's homecoming last year.
To add a bit more pressure on the outcome of the game, it's the first Region 2-AAAAA game for both teams. Also adding to the game is that it is not a normal game -- the two will play at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Homer Sharp Stadium.
For whatever reason, it seems that the Rams (3-0) have a hard time of playing focused ball when they are taken out of their normal situation. That's why trying to maintain some sort of normalcy is important if the Rams are to win.
"Anytime we get any type of change, things just go haywire around here. We're going to get them in (Saturday) around the same time as they would be getting out of school and try to keep things about as normal as possible," Newton head coach Cortez Allen said.
As for the Cougars (1-2), they already have revenge on their mind. Plus, they're not thrilled about playing on a Saturday for Newton's homecoming.
"They're going to come in hungry and ready to return the favor. We just have to withstand their charge and stick to our guns. We have to be good on both sides of the ball and make sure we try to get our special teams game so we can be on top of them," Allen said.
The Cougars play a 3-5 defense and they have a big, strong noseguard that can cause trouble for Newton's offense. In order for the Rams to get past Newnan's defense, they are going to have to win the battle of the line of scrimmage keeping the noseguard and the rest of the front line from disrupting the offense. For Newton to neutralize Newnan's defense, the Rams are going to have to execute the play and get their passing game going.
"They have some good athletes but I think we're starting to click a little bit with our receivers and quarterback. I look for Gmatreian Brown to carry us through this one," Allen said. "We want him to make smart decisions and get the ball to our receivers.
"We have to execute the things that are called. If we can get out and get started quickly, I feel real good about our chances."
The difference in the game when the Cougars have the ball will also be determined at the line of scrimmage. Last year, Newnan ran the dive option out of the shotgun. This year, from the games the Newton coaches have seen, they are doing that a lot more. In order to keep the Cougars from steadily moving the ball towards Newton's goal, the defense is going to have to play disciplined football.
"I'll take our defensive line over their offensive line," Allen said. "The key is going to be our linebackers and their quarterback. If our linebackers can maintain their quarterback and make him get rid of the ball before he wants to, that's going to be the key to the ball game."
The other key to winning is going to be the kicking game. Newton punter/kicker Zack Sullivan is going to have to keep his punts deep and away from Newnan's dangerous returner Cody Darracott. On kickoffs, the team that can put the ball into the end zone will have the advantage as both teams have the speed and skill to take it back for a touchdown.
"We've been preaching to our kids that they have to come out hungry and we have to go out and start quickly. We have to minimize our mistakes and play some real championship football," Allen said. "From the way we've gone the last couple of weeks and watching them on film I expect a tough battle. Once you start region play, everyone has something extra to play for."