Newton football coach Cortez Allen had some pretty important questions that needed answering heading into the Rams' 2012 spring practices.
As the last round of organized practices before the 2012 season begins ended Friday, Allen found out the answers to those questions - and he has to be pleased.
The Rams needed to rebuild two key positions thanks to the graduation of the 2011-12 class.
One of those positions is the secondary where several players stepped up, including a standout in junior Daquan Porteus-Punch.
"We feel like he answered some questions for us," Allen said.
In the Rams four losses during the 2011 season, they allowed more than 20 points in each of them, including 34 in a 34-6 loss to Stephenson.
The addition of a high-quality vertical defender will help lower some of those high-scoring contests for Newton as it moves to the state's biggest classification AAAAAA.
While Newton will look to prevent big play at the quarterback, the Rams also had the task this spring of finding a big-play quarterback.
The other big question on Allen's mind coming into the two weeks of spring practice was how his young quarterback would make the transition to a varsity starter.
Kemani Pittman was on Newton's freshman and junior varsity teams last season and needed to get down some of the reads and more difficult situations of varsity play.
He did exactly that, pleasing Allen with his performance and ability to learn.
"I think he got a lot of confidence and gave a lot of confidence to his teammates with his work throughout the spring," Allen said.
Pittman showed a powerful arm with a lot of zip on the ball and ran the offense with, at times, control of a seasoned veteran.
He also showed Allen the ability to take coaching quickly and improve his play with the suggestions.
"Just being able to be coached and corrected, and him making almost instant changes and corrections, whether it was technique or a particular read, prove he's just very coachable," Allen said.
With two big questions, in the secondary and at quarterback, answered Allen also got a bonus in seeing a very well-developed defensive line.
"I feel like our defensive line, we're going to have one of the best if not the top defensive lines in the state," Allen said.
The Rams will boast a line of seniors Kingsley Ejikle, Trayvon Richardson and juniors Corey Thomas and Daniel Durden.
"We're going to have extremely great depth on the defensive line. We'll be very explosive and very strong," Allen said. "Opposing quarterbacks and running backs are going to have a major issue."
The Rams, who finished 6-4 in 2011, will open the 2012 season against Eastside on Aug. 31 before traveling to Lowndes and then Valdosta for what will be a very difficult schedule.
"I had to find a couple of secondary guys and keeping an eye on how Kimani would develop in the quarterback position, as far as leadership," Allen said. "Those questions were answered and the icing on the cake was just knowing we had those guys coming back on the offensive and defensive lines."