Newton softball is coming off a season that saw the Lady Rams lose in the region championship to Alcovy and get bounced from the first round of the state playoffs. The Lady Rams didn't lose much from that team, and the experience for the young team that they were last year projected them to be much better this year. So far they're off to a slow start on that front as they fell to Shiloh 7-3 to open the season and lost to Locust Grove and Peachtree Ridge later in the week.
Eastside came out in full force, like this game had playoff implications, and Newton came out like it was a scrimmage, which it was, but being the rivals that the two teams are bragging rights were on the line and the Eagles struck first on an Austin Holloway touchdown pass to take a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter.
Kurt Taylor Jr. has slowly been gaining attention from colleges across the nation. He's been on multiple unofficial visits and met coaches from UGA to Rutgers, but it means nothing if they don't make the three-star running back an offer. Michigan was added to the list of schools that have offered Newton's star running back, and they're easily the biggest and best offer thus far. Offers will pour in this season if Taylor Jr. has the kind of season many people believe he can have.
A 13-17 (8-2 Region 2-AAAAAA) record last year yielded a huge blowout loss to county/region rival Alcovy in the region championship and a first round exit in the playoffs. The Lady Rams were a team lacking experience last year, but in 2015 they have an abundance of it.
Barely leading with minutes left in the game, a Newton turnover gave the ball and a chance to take a commanding lead back to Etowah. Again and again Etowah lined up and ran through Newton, eventually scoring two touchdowns in the final minutes of the game, advancing to the final four and sending Newton packing.
Editor's note: While on vacation in Seattle for the holiday weekend, I called up Newton head coach Rick Rasmussen to talk about how he thought summer went for the Rams' basketball team. Rasmussen talks about the Rams' new style of play, how this team compares to his most recent final four team and if they're a high school copy of the Golden State Warriors.
Newton lost star point guard D.J. Hill to college along with a number of other talented seniors, but the team isn't in a rebuilding state of mind. With the additions of freshmen Ashton Hagans and Colby Rogers plus the emergence of juniors J.D. Notae and Dante Johnson Newton will be a formidable bunch when the season starts.
The Newton Rams football team won its second 7-on-7 camp of the summer beating Dorman 22-14 at UGA. The AJC ranked Rams' receiver/defensive back Deandre Huff second overall of the top 10 performers at the camp. Running back Kurt Taylor Jr. was ranked 10th on the same list. The Rams will move on to South Carolina to play some of the best teams in the southeast.
At Newton, under head coach Rick Rasmussen, the boys' basketball team has notoriously ran a slow-paced pass heavy offense to minimize the opposing team's ability to exploit the Rams' lack of athleticism in transition. That ends this summer.
Azariah Foster has found a home for his future in track and field. Foster signed with Jackson State University this week where he will look to continue the success he's had at Newton. As a Ram, Jackson competed in the 110 and 300 hurdles. He placed fourth in the state in the 110, qualified for state in the 300 and also competed on the 4x400 relay team.
The Newton Rams football team went up to North Atlanta to win Cam Newton's 7-on-7 championship. Newton's next stop is a paid trip to Charlotte for the finals. Head coach Terrance Banks says the team is still a work in progress, as they look to dominate the summer before the regular season starts.
Newton girls basketball hosted a mini-camp for players in grades 4th - 12th this past week where players learned fundamentals, had fun and played some five-on-five basketball with teachings from the entire Lady Rams coaching staff.
What a difference a year makes. Freshmen become sophomores, sophomores become juniors and juniors become seniors. With that caveat is a revolving door of athletes and coaches that come together to reach a common goal: win. There was a lot of the latter between the two bordering counties of Newton and Rockdale and we recap some of the best stories of the 2014-2015 academic year here.