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Posted: September 26, 2013 7:36 p.m.

Rams not taking Panthers lightly

Anthony Banks/

The Newton Rams hit the road to take on Langston Hughes Friday night.

The crash came hard for Newton coach Terrance Banks after the fall.

Riding a high after his first win as a head coach three weeks ago against Lowndes, the Rams came back down to reality last week, falling 41-14 on the road to Valdosta.

That loss has left Banks motivated, and his team hungry, to taste winning again.

"I've been sour all week," Banks said. "We got beat up pretty bad. I thought I did a pretty good job of having the kids focused for the Valdosta game, but obviously I did not.

"I think the kids and the coaching staff both understand now that you never underestimate any opponent, especially not an opponent that is as talented as, or more talented, than you," he said. "We thought that we were going to show up and it was going to be the same as it was against Lowndes in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't. The kids have come back this week focused."

Banks and the Rams will get their chance for another win tonight when they travel to Fairburn to take on Langston Hughes.

The Panthers demolished previously undefeated Rockdale 34-0 a week ago, putting the Rams on notice not to take their next opponents as lightly as they did the Wildcats.

"Langston Hughes beat us last year and won their region," Banks said. "They had a great performance last week against Rockdale, holding them to zero points. They have our attention."

Banks said that both teams share common similarities, especially their reliance on defense to keep other teams in check.

"I think this game comes down to two main things," he said. "First, the turnover battle. Second, whose defense plays better. We are two very similar teams. Both teams' strength is their defense, but we both have offenses that can be explosive."

The Panthers’ explosive offense has averaged over 35 points a game in their three wins, while scoring just 14 points in the program's lone loss of the season against Creekside.

The Rams, on the other hand, have scored just 29 points over their last two games.

"I think our kids are starting to understand the flow of the offense better," Banks said. "Each week our offense matures and our quarterback is getting better in his reads. He's seen some good coverages the past two weeks and they have offered him some teachable moments.

"Our run game has also gotten better," he said. "Artice Hobbs is starting to figure it out in the running game. His improvement is only going to help us."

Defensively, the Rams will have to limit the Panthers' ability to create favorable match-ups in their spread offense.

"Langston Hughes, being a spread team, is going to want to throw the ball a lot,” Banks said. “We have to put pressure on the quarterback, but it's also a team that we're more comfortable playing against. They want to make the same mismatches we do instead of trying to overpower us. We have a great set of linebackers and defensive backs that will help limit those mismatches."

Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.

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