COVINGTON, Ga. — Scientifically speaking, a theory cannot be proven until it has been tested through experimentation.
That being said, the Newton football Rams will step into its first laboratory-like atmosphere Saturday, when it takes on the Cedar Grove Saints in a 6 p.m. scrimmage at Sharp Stadium.
The theory to be tested? Whether or not Newton coach Terrance Banks, now entering his fifth year at the program’s helm, will have a team that’s as physical as he thinks it can be.
“We’re ready now for the test,” Banks said. “We’re ready for Saturday to see where we are. It’s no secret by now that we’ve been saying that we want to have the most physical team on the planet. And on Saturday, especially for those first two quarters when the top units go at it, we’ll get a chance to see where we stack up.”
Newton will get a formidable challenge in Cedar Grove, which is the defending Class AAA state champion. The Saints finished the 2016 campaign with a 13-2 record, including a dominating run through the Class AAA playoffs where it defeated each of its playoff opponents by a combined score of 193-60 before beating Greater Atlanta Christian 30-19 in the title game.
The Cedar Grove matchup may be one of strength on strength, featuring Newton’s stingy secondary with the likes of Naval Academy committed safety Jaison Taylor squaring up against 6-foot-3, 190 pound Cedar Grove wideout, Jadon Haselwood.
Haselwood committed to Georgia back in March, and was considered the highest ranked receiver coming out of high school to commit to the Bulldogs since now-Cincinnati Bengals wideout, A.J. Green pledged in 2008. But Banks says that’s not a challenge his team is scared of.
“With them, I mean, you’ve got a state championship team,” he said. “The guys they have on that team, you have UGA commits and big guys who can go get the ball. They’re well-coached. Coach (Jermaine) Smith and I are friends. And listen. They’re coming here as a 3A school, and we’re a 7A school and we say we’re physical. Well, we’re going in knowing that we need to look like a 7A program.”
Newton will have some star power of its own to contend with, starting with Clemson pledged defensive tackle, Darnell Jefferies and UAB running back commit Nuru Tinch. Cedar Grove lost its 2016 starting quarterback to graduation, whereas the Rams will have a stronger, faster and more game-savvy Myron Middlebrooks back under center for his senior year.
And although the game says “scrimmage” on the schedule, Banks said he’s not expecting either team to treat it that way.
“When it’s best on best during that first part of the game, it definitely will be best on best between both teams,” he said. “They’re going to bring it, and we’re gonna have to be bringing it too.”