0

County championship on the line

COVINGTON -- Tonight's 7:30 county-rival game at Homer Sharp Stadium between Newton and Alcovy have different meanings for each team even though they each want to same final result...a win.

A win by Alcovy (2-3 overall, 1-0 in Region 2-AAAAAA) means another county championship, having won the first one in 2009, but more importantly the Tigers will be 2-0 in region play.

"Any coach will tell you that they'd like to go undefeated in the region going into their next game. It gives us the ability to be in that upper half," Alcovy head coach Kirk Hoffman said. "The approach is the same we've taken all year, we're worried about the next game. We're taking everything one game at a time. This is the next game."

A win by Newton (0--4, 0-0) means an end to their four-game losing steak, the last time started 0-5 was in 2007, but more importantly they will start region play with a win.

"It's definitely a large game for us. What we've been looking at is that this is the beginning of the season for us," Newton head coach Cortez Allen said. "This is the first game to give us a chance to play for the region championship and get in the playoffs.

"It's going to be an amazing game with in-county rivals. We haven't played for two years so it's going to be huge from the standpoint of positioning for the playoffs. A couple of years ago we have a rezoning in the county so a lot of those kids, like Cornell White, started out in our program. We knew of his talent so it's going to be good to see those kids up close and personal."

While the Newton defense gave up the points, averaging 26 points per game, it's up to the Rams' offense to end their current losing streak. A lot of those points were given up after a turnover or lack of movement by the Newton offense gave the opponent a short field.

"It's critical because we saw some things out of our kids last week that was hard to swallow. It was tough to see them (defense) play as good as they played to give us a chance to win. Our offense has to maintain some drives and move the ball. We need to have some seven to 10-play drives in order to do that as well as put some points on the board. That will allow our defense to play with confidence and continue to play at a high level."

The main problems with Newton's offense is their lack of ability in keeping the ball moving because of drive-ending penalties or dropping catchable passes. Without a consistent threat in their passing game and Newton putting themselves in second or third and long situations, opponents are able to focus on stopping the run putting more pressure on the passing game. Although Hoffman is cautious into thinking that Newton's mistakes will continue, he knows that his team has to be ready just in case.

"Newton ran into the same thing we ran to early where they've played some quality football teams up to this point. A lot of what's happened, to an extent, is not in their control. They have good size and good speed," Hoffman said. "We're going to have to play a sound game."

Newton's only score this season was a long run by James Hardeman against Valdosta. Other than that, the Rams have been held scoreless in their other three games.

The Tigers offense on the other hand seemed to find their identity last week against Luella after Clayton Anderson took over quarterbacking duties. Anderson's ability to throw the ball seemed to open their running game giving them another option. Also making their running game more viable is the return of White who missed the Luella game.

"We're going to continue to do what we've done. We feel confident with both of them (Marcus Williams) but we'll go with whoever has the hot hand. Clayton came in and had the hot hand," Hoffman said.

"Cornell has the ability to give us the big play. When he gets his hands on the ball he makes things happen."

This dual threat could make a long night for the Newton defense especially if the Tigers start with good field position.

"They've done things well in the past as far as running and throwing the ball. That's not a big obstacle for us because we're sound. We need to read our keys and follow our procedures. If they're running the ball well or the quarterback is throwing the ball well we just need to follow our procedures to defend them either way they go," Allen said.

While it's going to be a battle on the field starting with the kickoff, before the game both teams are joining together in their support to start Breast Cancer Awareness month.

"Both teams are going to come together at 7 and do a breast cancer walk to kickoff Breast Cancer Awareness month. We're both going to raise money to donate to the American Cancer Society on behalf of Yolanda Holland, my first cousin. She passed last year after double breast cancer," Allen said. "We're going to play the game in her honor and make donations on behalf of both programs."