By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Now is the time
Placeholder Image

Like the Gillette commercial featuring Tiger Woods, Thierry Henry and Roger Federer goes, "the only thing that matters is today" for the Rams.

And tonight Newton (0-4, 0-1 Region 2-AAAAA) has a chance to even its region record with a victory against Luella (1-3, 0-1).

"I don't have any concerns with (Luella)," stated Newton head coach Nick Collins on Thursday afternoon. "This team is not bigger than us; this team is not faster than us. The bottom line is will we make the plays that are necessary to win a football game."

Despite the confidence he has in his team, Collins still realizes the significance of the game. In addition, Luella head coach Paul Burgdorf feels the same way.

"Each region ballgame is important as it has implications in the overall region picture," said Burgdorf. "This ballgame is big to even up our region record."

According to Burgdorf, several things must occur in order for his Lions to win.

"We have to take care of (the) ball and eliminate negative offensive plays," noted Burgdorf.

From Luella's viewpoint, that shouldn't be a problem considering Newton's current struggles on the gridiron.

In fact, it's been 10 years since the Rams started the season 0-4. In 1997, they posted an overall record of 1-9. However, the last time Newton had scored just 13 points in its first four games was 1984. In fact, none of the current players had even been born yet.

But in a twist of irony, the NFL St. Louis Rams have also experienced their fair share of problems, and are also 0-4 this season. St. Louis is allowing 25.8 points per game, which is eerily similar to Newton's average of 26 per game.

Newton has allowed a combined 1,368 yards of total offense, averaging 342 per game. Meanwhile, St. Louis has allowed 1,397 yards (349.2 per game), meaning that just 29 yards separate the teams.

Last week St. Louis lost 35-7 to the Cowboys, while Newton fell 36-6 to Redan.

Despite its current struggles, Newton has plenty of players who scare Burgdorf, particularly at the skilled positions.

"Their perimeter players have speed (on) both sides of the ball," said Burgdorf.

Four of those players - Rueben Hatchett, Keagan Marks, Demetrius McCray and Quinton Pooler - should have an impact against Luella.

"You're talking about four guys (who) have really been leading this ball club," praised Collins.

Hatchett has done a solid job at defensive back all season long, and leads the Rams with three interceptions. In fact, he had two picks against Redan on Saturday.

"He did a really good job last week," said Collins, "but Rueben (has) been steady all year, offensively and defensively, and that's why he's a college prospect. He has really emerged as a big-time leader."

Marks has also contributed on the defensive end by disrupting plays and putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

"Keagan has started to come on," said Collins. "(As) fast as he is, he's got to be on the football field. He's done a really, really good job for us."

McCray has taken the majority of the snaps this year at quarterback, but has also contributed as a receiver and at cornerback.

"He's so athletic," said Collins, "and last week really showed his versatility."

Pooler, a former tight end, has proven himself at the running back position for the Rams. He leads the team in carries and rushing yards. But Pooler has also excelled on the defensive end, too.

"Quinton has been consistent all year," said Collins. "He's probably been our best defensive player. But he's really emerged as the power back we've been looking for in our running game."

Of course, there have been others whose work has at times gone unnoticed, such as tight end/defensive back Michael Kuku and backup quarterback Kenny Patrick.

"Michael has played really, really well and is very aggressive," said Collins. "I've really been impressed with him.

"Kenny has really emerged as a playmaker for us at quarterback," added Collins, "which allows us to put other guys at different positions to try and make us a better team."

With all that being said, the numbers don't lie: Newton's offense, defense and special teams have struggled this year. The Rams have tallied 446 yards of total offense, averaging 111.5 per game.

Still, Collins remains optimistic that his program will eventually turn it around before the end of the season.

"If they believe what I'm telling them to be true, and they're willing to make the commitment to do it, it can happen," said Collins.