I be­lieve that New­ton will win

The Covington News - - SPORTS - Sha­keem Hol­loway is the sports ed­i­tor at The News. You can reach him at 770-728-1413 or shol­loway@cov­news.com.

For a year now, Lown­des has had this game cir­cled on its cal­en­dar be­cause last year New­ton went down there and beat them, and this year they’re gonna do it again.

You see, Lown­des is one of the most for­mi­da­ble teams in the state. They’re widely re­spected and ev­ery year since 2004 and prob­a­bly longer (maxpreps.com doesn’t go past 2004) Lown­des had had at least six wins. That’s a huge ac­com­plish­ment for any team, high school, col­lege or pro­fes­sional.

That ac­com­plish­ment is a tes­ta­ment to the pow­er­house that Lown­des is. Through years of new play­ers and new coaches, Lown­des has es­tab­lished a con­sis­tent thread of ex­cel­lence. Vik­ings’ coach Randy Mcpher­son is go­ing for his 200th win on Fri­day and it’s also Lown­des home­com­ing. In a phrase, New­ton will be trav­el­ing into the hor­nets’ nest on Fri­day.

You may say to your­self then, why do I think they can beat them?

It’s sim­ple. New­ton has the right for­mula to beat a team like Lown­des. Lown­des runs the wing-t of­fense, an of­fense built on mis­di­rec­tion, mul­ti­ple op­tions in the run­ning game and the of­fen­sive line­men trap­ping de­fen­sive line­men. This helps cre­ate holes for the run­ning backs while de­ceiv­ing the de­fense with a num­ber of fake hand­offs.

The key to stop­ping the wing-t is for the de­fense to stay dis­ci­plined within their reads. New­ton has to have suc­cess on first and sec­ond down against the run game. The Rams have to force the Vik­ings into as many third and longs as pos­si­ble, which will hope­fully force Lown­des to throw the ball.

In most cases, teams who run of­fenses like the wing-t or the triple op­tion aren’t real ef­fec­tive at throw­ing the ball down­field. How­ever, in last week’s matchup against Rock­dale, the Bull­dogs forced Lown­des’ to throw the ball and throw the ball they did.

The Vik­ings to­taled over 150 yards pass­ing with a hand­ful of touch­downs. Lown­des is ca­pa­ble of throw­ing the ball, but they’re not go­ing to un­less you make/let them. Still, forc­ing the Vik­ings to air it out is what Rams’ head coach Ter­rance Banks wants.

De­fend­ing the pass against Lown­des will be much eas­ier than de­fend­ing the run. Even in the pass­ing game, the de­fense will have to re­main dis­ci­plined. Lown­des can use their ef­fec­tive run­ning game to set up play ac­tion and go over the top when New­ton puts eight de­fend­ers in the box. If the Rams’ de­fend­ers hes­i­tate or bite on the fakes, the Vik­ings will have open re­ceivers all day.

De­fense is im­por­tant, es­pe­cially in this game, but the Rams’ key to suc­cess is in their of­fense. The Rams don’t use the wing-t (thank­fully). New­ton uses a pro-style of­fense that’s a lot like the west coast of­fense Andy Reid usu­ally em­ploys with Rams’ sig­nal­caller get­ting the ball out quick to the play­mak­ers.

A pass­ing of­fense is usu­ally al­wyas a prob­lem for any team that runs an of­fense like the wing-t. New­ton’s pass­ing game is le­git and Ro­mario John­son is a dual-threat quar­ter­back with quick­ness and a great arm.

The Rams will move the ball quickly and con­stantly. They’ll set Lown­des up with short passes and get big yards off a few deep fly routes. Putting up points is the best de­fense to a slow paced rush­ing of­fense like Lown­des.

The Vik­ings will ei­ther have to keep run­ning the ball, which runs the clock quicker, or go to the air more fre­quently, where they’re not ex­actly ex­perts when the run­ning game isn’t suc­cess­ful.

All in all, it should be a re­ally good game. But when the clock hits dou­ble zero, ex­pect coach Mcpher­son to be telling coach Banks and the Rams to get the hell out of their locker room af­ter New­ton takes the cake.

SHA­KEEM HOL­LOWAY SPORTS ED­I­TOR

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