That’s the first thing that comes to mind after watching a complete dismantling of the Eastside Eagles at the hands of the Newton Rams.
We knew this was going to be a young Eastside team. We knew there would be a few question marks on the offensive and defensive lines, especially. We also knew that Newton was making plans to be the most physical high school football team in Georgia.
What we didn’t expect was for those narratives to play out so vividly in Newton’s 41-0 win over its in-county rival. Coming into this game the all-times series was as deadlocked as it could be at 6-6-1. Only three times had a game been decided by more than 15 points. Both of the most lopsided wins in the series before Friday night belonged to Eastside. All of this seemed to be reason enough to expect a somewhat close game, even if Newton would win by a couple of scores.
But the Rams took care of business in a big way, and here are five things I learned from it.
1. Nuru Tinch is one of the best high school running backs in Georgia. Yep, I said it. During the postgame interview, when asked how the 6-foot, 215-pound UAB commit was feeling about two strong performances after a junior season plagued with injuries, he flashed a big smile, stomped his feet into the Sharp Stadium turf a few times, and said, “I feel great,” with a bit of a laugh. If you watched him Friday night you’ll know he wasn’t lying. In each of his first two games, if allowed to play at least three full quarters, Tinch probably could’ve eclipsed 250 yards easily. He’s a load to bring down. But he also has speed, quick feet and good vision. He had a chance to show off his hands as well on a 41-yard touchdown reception. Tinch had 160 rushing yards before halftime. Once the Rams get into the meat of their schedule after next week’s bye week, Tinch will get the chance to prove that he can keep up these numbers against bigger, faster opponents. If I were you, I wouldn’t bet against him. And here’s why…
2. Newton’s offensive linemen are nasty run blockers. There were some times when Eastside’s front seven got into quarterback Myron Middlebrooks’ mug as he tried to drop back or roll out to pass. But when it came to opening up running lanes, particularly for Tinch, there wasn’t much — if anything — to complain about. On most football teams, the offensive line is only given attention when it does something wrong, i.e. false start penalties, busted blocking assignments, etc. But for a team racking up over 300 rushing yards on average in its first two games, it’s time to give the trenchmen some credit. They were dominant, and leaned on the Eastside defensive front from the beginning.
3. Some passing game questions are starting to be answered. And most of those questions revolved more around the young receivers than Middlebrooks, the seasoned veteran under center. The inexperienced receiving corps dropped a few balls in last week’s win over Drew. But on Friday night, they made big time plays. Mike Mathison, Robert Lewis and David Butso all looked more comfortable receiving passes from Middlebrooks. And minus a late game fumble, Middlebrooks continues to show efficiency in his passing, not to mention a little bit more of a burst when he tucks to run. Would like to see him show a little more accuracy on throws while under duress, but overall, the passing game improvement is definitely there.
4. It’s time to start talking about Dre Butler. When I first saw Butler, I saw him on the basketball court. But the senior defensive end has played these first two games as if football is his natural sport — and it could very well be. But Banks said it best when assessing the talent and potential of Butler as a football player: “He’s a guy where if we keep on seeing this development from him, I think game after game you’ll start seeing the schools and the offers start to come. Butler registered three sacks in last week’s win and picked up several more Friday against Eastside. He closes well on ball carriers with a combination of speed, instinct and physicality and his motor doesn’t really seem to stop. Keep an eye on No. 49.
5. And here comes the scary part….This isn’t even a complete Newton Rams team. Remember Elija Godwin? The superstar speedster and track state champion? Yeah, him. He’s also a three-star prospect at defensive back, and due to a pulled hamstring on the track circuit, he’s just now getting back into football shape. He’s looking to return Sept. 8 at Peachtree Ridge. So too is hard-hitting corner, Tim Newton. Newton was walking with a boot on his foot during Friday’s game. But he said the injury shouldn’t linger. After playing a sloppy opener in regard to penalties and turnovers, the Rams played a relatively clean game Friday night. If that continues, they stay healthy and hungry, the Oct. 6 and Oct. 20 home games against Archer and Grayson suddenly become very appealing. This Rams team, indeed, looks like its on a mission.