COVINGTON — Whoever can gain the advantage using their experience is going to have the best chance to start the 2014 season with a win as Berkmar travels to Homer Sharp Stadium to take on Newton on at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
“If you have a lot of returning starters you have a head start on the opponent. I feel like having nine back on offense gives us a great jump on what we’re doing,” Newton head coach Terrance Banks said. “The system isn’t new. We didn’t change anything, we tweaked some stuff. But other than that the kids are doing the same thing they did last year.”
The Patriots, who are coming off a 3-7 record in 2013, have four returning defensive and five returning offensive players. Their defensive experience comes in the secondary with two returners and two the linebacker position. Banks, who is entering his second year as the Rams ( 5-6 in 2013), feels the lack of experience on the defensive line will help open holes to establish their running game.
A successful running game is the key for a Newton win. If they are successful getting their ground game on track, that will give returning junior quarterback Romario Johnson the chance to throw the ball and quicken the pace.
“If we can establish the run I think we’ll be able to do a lot of what we want to do. I think that will help us because we want to be uptempo, we want to push the pace,” Banks said. “We want to have more plays than other teams are accustomed to. I think because we know what’s going on that will help us.”
Even though Berkmar has an experienced quarterback, running back and receiver, Banks thinks that the key to stopping the Patriots offense is to stop them from completing the big plays. Banks has confidence that his defense can prevent Berkmar from driving the ball in small chunks. It’s the big play he feels they need to stop.
“Berkmar is a lot like us on offense where they rely on explosive plays. If we can prevent their explosive plays on defense they’ll have a hard time scoring,” Banks said. “I was on Coach (Jonathan) Sanks staff at Berkmar so you always learn something from every coach you work with. No doubt I learned something from him and brought some of those things with me.
“We’re confident going into the first game of the season and we’re excited about the season. Having a chance to play in front of your student body, your fans, in your stadium is definitely important to the kids and us. Hopefully we’ll have a nice size crowd. We’re poised to have a good year and that starts on Friday. Hopefully, with a win.”