The distance between Newton High School (4-1) and Lowndes High School (4-1) covers over 200 miles of Georgia territory and a three or four hour road trip for the Rams. Lowndes couldn’t have been further ahead of Newton this past Friday as the Vikings pillaged the hearts of Newton fans that traveled with the team to the tune of a 56-7 blowout.
Lowndes vs Newton had been one of the best games to watch for the past two seasons with the games being decided by four points or less and the split being 1-1. That wasn’t the case this time as the Vikings scored 21 points in both the second and third quarter with a ferocious rushing attack.
On the opening drive, Newton got Lowndes’ five-yard line, but didn’t come away with any points. The Rams couldn’t stop the Vikings on the ground or through the air as they racked up points on the night.
“If we were gonna lose I’m glad it was last night. It’s a wake-up call for all of us. It focuses you,” Newton head coach, Terrance Banks, said. “The most important thing is preparing our self to take care of business. We got Tucker in two weeks. It gives us a chance to get healthy and it gives us a chance to get back focused. I’m sure this loss will leave a sour taste in our mouth so hopefully when we get to Tucker in two weeks we’ll be more focused.”
The pre-season as Banks usually calls it, is over for Newton. The games have playoff implications now and the Rams’ first Region 2-AAAAAA test could be its greatest. Newton will travel to play Tucker, last year’s Region 2-AAAAAA champions, after the Rams’ bye week to begin region play and Banks is focused on his team’s ability or lack thereof, to execute.
“It starts with me. Everything starts and ends with me. I’ve gotta do a better job of making sure my coaches have a solid game plan and making sure my coaches communicate to the boys the game plan and things of that nature,” Banks said.
“I’ve gotta make sure everything is done proper and that our kids are prepared. We talk about being 0-0 all the time and starting over and going 1-0 each day, well that theory’s about to be put to the test,” Banks added. “Come Monday we 0-0 so we gotta win that day to get ready for what’s coming in a few weeks.”
The stakes are high and the contest will be a measure of just how good the Rams are. A win could validate the loss to Lowndes as a necessary step to improve and be better, but a loss could derail the entire operation...at least for that week.
“It’s not the end of the world but it’s a big, big setup. The good news is we have the region champs game one. The bad news is we have the region champs game one,” Banks said. “So what happens is if you lose while you still have a legitimate chance of making the playoffs, you kind of put yourself behind the eight ball. The next game kind of becomes a must-win game and you end up having to watch the standings on playoff seeding.”
Banks and his team’s goal is to be in Sharp for most of the playoffs. To do that, Newton has to be eyeing a No. 1 seed and they know to get that it starts with Tucker.
“We wanna be in Sharp. It’s big for us that game because if we can find a way to be motivated, take care of business, three of the next four games are at Sharp,” Banks said. “We wanna be in that natural routine where we are at home and everything is familiar and have a chance to play in downtown Covington for as long as possible. It’s a big game. It’s also a test on where we’re at. Was last night just a blip on the radar or was it telltale sign of where we are?”
Banks concluded, “We’ll continue to play hard and we’ll get it fixed. Losing one game is not the end of the world so we’ll circle the wagons and we’ll come out stronger.”