New­ton needs de­fense to lead way

The Covington News - - Sports - BRYAN FAZIO bfazio@cov­news.com

The New­ton Rams are look­ing for some im­prove­ments af­ter a 32-0 loss to East­side in week one, but will have to best a chal­leng­ing op­po­nent to do so.

New­ton, in its first sea- son in Class AAAAAA, the state’s big­gest clas­si­fi­ca­tion, trav­els to Lown­des, the state’s No. 6 ranked team, to­day for an 8 p.m. show­down in south Ge­or­gia.

The Vik­ings have won five state cham­pi­onships, in­clud­ing 2004,

2005 and 2007. Last year, Lown­des reached the sec­ond round of the state playoffs, fall­ing to Grayson 25-17.

De­fen­sively, the Vik­ings run a 5-2 for­ma­tion with five de­fen­sive line­man, while they are a Wing-T team on of­fense with three play­ers in the back­field.

In its 50-23 win over Luella, Lown­des was led by Nick Burgman with 144 yards on 11 car­ries. In all, the Vik­ings ran the ball with 12 dif­fer­ent play­ers, in­clud­ing Tevin Brown with 92 yards on 12 car­ries and Ah­man Brown with 62 yards on eight car­ries.

“Ev­ery­body knows they’re go­ing to be a good team,” New­ton coach Cortez Allen said. “They have a great pro­gram and they play cham­pi­onship football.

“We’re go­ing to go down and com­pete and we’re go­ing to go down ex­pect­ing to win the ball game, like ev­ery other game.”

New­ton’s suc­cesses in week one came on the de­fen­sive side of the ball, and Allen is look­ing for the Rams’ de­fense to once again lead the way.

Ac­cord­ing to Allen, New­ton held the Class AAAA East­side Ea­gles to 72 yards, or about 1.82 per carry, and to just 27 per­cent pass­ing.

“I was very pleased with our ef­fort on de­fense,” Allen said.

A big rea­son for the de­fen­sive strength of last Fri­day night was se­nior out­side line­backer An­thony Durham.

“He did an out­stand­ing job and we look for him to continue to play big for us this year,” Allen said. We’re just glad to have him and very proud of his ef­forts on Fri­day night.”

While New­ton’s de­fense isn’t clash­ing with the Vik­ings’ run­ning at­tack the Rams will be look­ing to im­prove on its offensive per­for­mance from week one, in­clud­ing main­tain­ing pos­ses­sion.

“Ob­vi­ous things to fix are we’re not turn­ing the ball over,” Allen said. “We had a hard time hang­ing on to the football and didn’t do a good job of be­ing pre­pared in the pass­ing game.”

Sopho­more Ke­mani Pit­man gets his sec­ond start at quar­ter­back for the Rams in the 9,000seat ca­pac­ity Martin Sta­dium.

Pit­man strug­gled in his first game, go­ing 9 of 25 for 75 yards with two in­ter­cep­tions. But he got ad­justed to the big crowds of high school football as Sharp Sta­dium was filled with both New­ton and East­side fans.

“He im­proved and I know that’s tough to un- der­stand from a lot of peo­ple’s per­spec­tive, but he did some things bet­ter than he did a cou­ple of weeks ago,” Allen said.

While Pit­man is work­ing on im­prove­ments, so is his coach­ing staff, who Allen feels put him in too many sit­u­a­tions where he needed to come up with a play.

“We un­der­stand when you’re try­ing to force a young quar­ter­back to make plays, that’s tough,” Allen said. “We don’t want Ke­mani to have to win games for us, we want him to be a game man­ager and ex­e­cute in the pass­ing game — sit­u­a­tions that are en­cour­ag­ing to him.”

It’s the first of two straight trips to Lown­des County as New­ton vis­its the na­tion’s most win­ningest pro­gram in Val­dosta, on Sept. 21. Head­ing to south Ge­or­gia the first time, the Rams will leave New­ton at 9 a.m. be­fore stop­ping at Mercer Univer­sity and Val­dosta State Univer­sity for a chance for the play­ers to visit the col­lege cam­puses.

That’s the only vis­it­ing Allen feels his team will do on the trip, as they are go­ing to Lown­des to try to win a game not revel in its win­ning tradition.

“We’re con­fi­dent we be­long on the field with them,” Allen said. “We’re go­ing to go out there and try to make sure we ex­e­cute in all three phase of the game.”

An­thony Banks /The Cov­ing­ton News

Rob­bie Wal­lace comes up with a tackle for New­ton against East­side Fri­day. The Rams are look­ing for their de­fense to come up big again Fri­day.

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