Rams show prom­ise, game can­celled

The Covington News - - SPORTS - SHA­KEEM HOL­LOWAY shol­loway@cov­news.com

For the sec­ond week in a row, New­ton’s game got can­celled after almost one full quar­ter of play against West­lake. This game was sup­posed to be the one to test New­ton, and see if its two wins weren’t just wins be­cause they were against weak com­pe­ti­tion. Although there was only a small sam­ple size to judge from, as nei­ther coach had the ben­e­fit of a half­time or end of a quar­ter to make ad­just­ments, it was enough to see that the Rams are spe­cial. It was enough to make one be­lieve that they can go down to Lown­des and win…again.

Watch­ing the Rams on of­fense Fri­day, you prob­a­bly saw about 60/40 pass run (even when Ro­mario John­son drops back, you have to ac­count for his abil­ity to run, so you never know).

At the re­ceiver po­si­tion, the Rams have Dean­dre Huff, Davonta Jones and JJ Hol­lo­man at their dis­posal. All three had at least one catch in the game.

Jones fin­ished with four catches for 55 yards. Huff caught two passes for 108 yards. All in just one quar­ter.

When they’re pass­ing, it’s mostly short dinks and dunks, where the re­ceiver picks up more YAC be­cause the passes come out quick al­low­ing the re­ceiver to catch the ball in stride with enough space to get ex­tra yards. Giv­ing the Rams’ re­ceivers any cush­ion is a mis­take; then again it’s not.

The thing is, the short passes is how New­ton lures de­fend­ers in. The Rams have the speed to go deep, so when the sec­ondary comes up, the Rams are able to at­tack them deep with ease.

This was the case in New­ton’s lone 71 yard touch­down pass from John­son to Huff. The added weapon of hav­ing some­one like John­son who can move around in the pocket and take off with­out a mo­ment’s no­tice, makes them even more dan­ger­ous.

If you rush four and lay back in cov­er­age, John­son can find creases in the de­fense to at­tack on the run. If you blitz, John­son will look to get the ball out to one of his re­ceivers, who can make plays after the catch. And it’s not just great play­call­ing, it’s also has a lot to do with John­son’s good decision-mak­ing skills. John­son doesn’t hold the ball too long, and the de­ci­sions he made on Fri­day moved the ball quickly and ef­fi­ciently.

The of­fen­sive line is where New­ton might have prob­lems. High school foot­ball will never be per­fect in terms of play­ing mis­take-free foot­ball, no mat­ter what Billy Bob Thorn­ton tells you, there’s no such thing as be­ing per­fect.

The Rams don’t look very big in the trenches, but they’re not to­tally un­der­sized to play the po­si­tion. Stay­ing dis­ci­plined will be New­ton’s is­sue.

In Fri­day’s matchup, there were sev­eral hold­ing calls on New­ton’s first drive. After three con­sec­u­tive suc­cess­ful passses, New­ton found it­self at the West­lake 47. How­ever, two back-to­back hold­ing calls led to a third and 40 that the Rams were some­how able to gain 37 yards on from a pass to Huff.

For the majority of the time, the of­fen­sive line won’t have to hold blocks for too long, since the Rams will look to get the ball out as fast as pos­si­ble. When the Rams go deep, that’s when the line has the ten­dency to break down forc­ing John­son out of the pocket (which hap­pened a cou­ple times on Fri­day).

On the de­fen­sive end, the Rams aren’t as stacked on de­fense like they are on of­fense. Forc­ing turnovers and cre­at­ing pres­sure through scheme will be the Rams’ key to suc­cess. On Fri­day against West­lake, they were very suc­cess­ful on de­fense. The Rams al­lowed -1 yards for their quar­ter of play. Again, this is a small sam­ple size, but it says a lot re­gard­ing the team’s po­ten­tial.

Lown­des is a dif­fi­cult team to face in an even more dif­fi­cult en­vi­ron­ment. New­ton beat them last year, which was head coach Ter­rance Banks’ first win as a head coach. The Rams will look to con­trol the tempo, get the ball out to their play­mak­ers and make Lown­des one-di­men­sional when they meet again on Fri­day.

An­thony Banks /The Cov­ing­ton News

Dean­dre Huff cel­e­brates after scor­ing on a 71-yard touch­down pass against West­lake, just mo­ments be­fore the game was stopped and even­tu­ally can­celled due to bad weather.

An­thony Banks /The Cov­ing­ton News

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