NEW­TON

The Covington News - - Sports -

Langston Hughes ( 3- 1) comes to Sharp Sta­dium Thurs­day for a 7 p. m. kick­off, fac­ing its former Re­gion 2- AAAAA con­tem­po­rary in New­ton ( 0- 3). New­ton has won the pre­vi­ous two meet­ings, beat­ing Langston Hughes 42- 6 in 2010 and 23- 3 in 2011.

“They’re a very ath­letic team,” New­ton coach Cortez Allen said. “De­fen­sively, we have to main­tain our dis­ci­pline; we have to look to get af­ter them and cause some havoc in their back­field and cause some turnovers for us.

“Of­fen­sively, we have to stay on track and have to min­i­mize mis­takes, stay dis­ci­plined and not have costly penal­ties to get us off drives.”

The Rams’ de­fense will be go­ing against a spread of­fense out of the shot­gun, which op­er­ates un­der what Allen dubs “fun and gun.”

The de­fense has been among New­ton’s strong­est points in its first three games, de­spite all of them com­ing for loss.

The Rams fell 31- 7 to Val­dosta Fri­day with Kings­ley Ejike tal­ly­ing 17 tack­les, in­clud­ing one for loss and Duronte Carter record­ing 16 tack­les.

The as­pect of New­ton’s game that most needs to im­prove in or­der for the Rams to break into the win col­umn is the of­fense, which will have an­other dif­fi­cult chal­lenge Thurs­day.

The Pan­thers have al­lowed just 9.5 points per game, in­clud­ing a shutout against Rock­dale on Fri­day.

In its only loss, Langston Hughes gave up 17 points to Wheeler on Sept. 14.

The Pan­thers three vic­to­ries have equaled its win to­tal from last sea­son, in which it gave up 30 points per game.

Langston

Hughes runs a 4- 3 de­fense led by line­backer Justin Brown and An­drekay Askew.

“It’s some­thing that we’re pretty fa­mil­iar with,” Allen said. “We’ll try to get af­ter it and force some things we feel like they don’t do well and do some things we feel are our strong suits.”

New­ton dis­cov­ered one of those strong suits in Val­dosta, as James Harde­man got his first start at run­ning back and de­liv­ered with a 123- yard, one touch­down per­for­mance.

He scored the Rams only touch­down of the year on an 82- yard run af­ter he pow­ered through the Wild­cats’ de­fen­sive line.

“He runs with a dif­fer­ent de­meanor than what we’ve had in the past,” Allen said. “He runs with a great deal of power and he’s very ex­plo­sive as Val­dosta can at­test too. Once he gets in the open field, it’s go­ing to be hard to catch him.”

Harde­man most likely will also be joined by Dar­ius Dean who is re­turn­ing from an in­jury, but will still main­tain his start­ing spot.

“We’re re­ally ex­cited about what he was able to do last week and we look for him to con­tinue down that road,” Allen said. “Just to see that kid per­form and his work ethic and his de­meanor run­ning the ball gives our of­fense hope and gives our quar­ter­back con­fi­dence.”

Also giv­ing the Rams con­fi­dence will be the re­turn to Sharp Sta­dium as a home team for the first time this sea­son. Af­ter not be­ing able to play on their home turf for three weeks, re­turn­ing to the fa­mil­iar con­fines could give the Rams an­other boost en route to its first vic­tory.

“Things have been a lit­tle dif­fer­ent than what our kids have been used to,” Allen said. “It will bring some nor­malcy, and hope­fully they can stay fo­cused and be ready to play some ball.”

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