RI­VALRY

The Covington News - - SPORTS - Gabriel Stovall is the proud sports ed­i­tor of The Cov­ing­ton News. He can be reached for story ideas or tips at gsto­vall@cov­news.com. Also, fol­low him on Twit­ter: @GabrielS­to­vall1, and fol­low our Sports Twit­ter page: @ CovNewsS­ports.

But when the two teams get on the field, that all goes out the win­dow. This is the rea­son why I hes­i­tantly picked New­ton as a three score fa­vorite in this game.

My head was telling me that the Rams had too much fire­power — too much strength for the Ea­gles to con­tend with. But my heart was re­mind­ing me that any­thing goes in ri­valry games.

Which is why, be­yond the ri­valry emo­tions of it, New­ton’s romp over East­side was a huge state­ment vic­tory. Re­gard­less of num­bers or size, East­side is al­ways — al­ways — a well-coached, dis­ci­plined and skilled foot­ball team.

Re­mem­ber, just a week ago this same East­side squad dis­man­tled a 2016 play­off team and re­gion foe 50-6 in the opener. I also be­lieve that once these Ea­gles fall back into its Class AAAA com­pe­ti­tion con­text, you’ll see that coach Troy Hoff prob­a­bly has another play­off team on his hands.

But the way New­ton man­han­dled an East­side front that in­cludes South Carolina com­mit and three-star prospect, La­mar­ius Ben­son, is just a sign post that this Rams bunch may be the most equipped team in at least the last five or six years to make a run at a re­gion crown and more.

When you watch them, you get the feel­ing that if they don’t turn the ball over and take them­selves out of games with penal­ties, the only team that can re­ally beat New­ton is New­ton.

Make no mis­take. That East­side squad that got beat Satur­day is not a bad foot­ball team by any stretch. It just may be that New­ton is just that good this year. And big­ger games loom that will test this the­ory. Her­itage on the road. Archer and Grayson at home. If New­ton loses games like those, what hap­pened Fri­day night won’t mean as much as far as the big­ger pic­ture goes which is chal­leng­ing for a state cham­pi­onship.

But from the lo­cal per- spec­tive, New­ton-East­side will al­ways be a big deal for cur­rent and past Rams and Ea­gles. And this time…this year, Banks got the best of the bat­tle. But it wasn’t just about him. That much was clear when he be­gan to call the roll of pre­vi­ous Rams who didn’t get to taste vic­tory in this ri­valry.

“This is not just for the play­ers on this team,” Banks said. “This is for J.J. (Hol­lo­man), for Jaquan (Hen­der­son), Toyus Avery, Steven Mon­tac. It’s for ev­ery player I’ve ever coached who didn’t get the chance to win this game. And I just want them to know it’s as sweet as we all imag­ined it to be.”

And that sweet taste will re­main — at least un­til this time next year when these two county broth­ers go at it one more time.

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