COVINGTON — With Tucker joining Lovejoy, two teams have played for a state championship two of the past three years, in Region 2-AAAAAA playing for a region title might be a long run. Fortunately, winning region is not a goal for the Rams football team.
“One of the philosophies I look up to in the coaching profession is Rush Propst at Colquitt County. They’ve been a No. 3 seed or a No. 2 seed every year since he’s been there. But they still find a way to play 14 or 15 games,” Newton head coach Terrance Banks said. “The most important thing is that Newton does what Newton has to do to make the playoffs and successfully prepare for that game 11.”
The main goal the Rams (5-6, 4-2) have this year is not only do make the playoffs, but to win at least one playoff game. The last time the Rams were able to advance to the second round of the playoffs was in 1987. Banks wants to end that drought.
“Its been before these kids were born that Newton has played 12 games,” Banks said. “That’s the biggest thing we’re trying to prepare for in our season. That’s the goal for the season.”
The Rams begin their season on Friday hosting Berkmar to start their five-game nonregion schedule. Their other nonregion home games include Rome (Sept. 6) and Meadowcreek (Sept. 12) while playing Meadowcreek (Aug. 29) and Lowndes (Sept. 19) on the road.
Following Lowndes, a game they won 15-14 last year, the Rams start the first of three region games at home playing Tucker (Oct. 3), Alcovy (Oct. 10) and Lovejoy (Oct. 25). They will end the regular season on the road playing Lakeside, DeKalb (Oct. 31) and Rockdale (Nov. 7).
Newton has a lot of offensive experience with nine returning players. One of those returning include junior quarterback Romario Johnson. The offseason was good for Johnson allowing him to mature but more importantly get comfortable with the playbook.
“He’s to the point where he understands everything and it’s not moving too fast for him. As a matter of fact, we’ve given him more responsibility and I think that now that he knows the playbook the world is in front of him,” Banks said. “The offense will be better because (Johnson) understands the playbook. The more he understands the more we’ll be able to do. He needs to go out and do what he needs to do to get us to that next level.”
Unfortunately, they do not have that same level of experience on defense with only four returning starters. One part of the defense that is ready for whatever is put in front of them is the secondary unit.
“We’ve got Steven Montac. Isaiah Fassett and Donta Jones coming back,” Banks said. “Then of course A.J. Palomino at linebacker. We’ve got some good pieces there. Once they grow up we’ll be fine.”
Depth at the skill position is one thing the Rams feel they are comfortable. However, depth on the offensive and defensive line is a different story.
“We’re not to the point where we have a deep team, but we have some kids that can step in certain position skill-wise to help us. But on the offensive and defensive line, if things start to go down that could drastically change the season.”