Finally, football is back.
Newton High School will be the first team in Newton County to kick-off the season, and its opening at home against Berkmar, a team that Rams’ head coach Terrance Banks used to be an assistant for.
Berkmar finished its 2013 season on a seven-game losing streak after winning the first three games, while Newton is looking to go for a school record with three consecutive playoff appearances.
“This is what you work for all summer long, it’s here,” Banks said. “Mentally it’s nothing special. This is what all the hard work in the summer is for. We’ve had a chance to look at film, and Berkmar being the first opponent we’ve thought about them in-depth for a while. Now it’s time to get out there and get after that.”
Banks and his team will look to keep up the pace on offense, tiring out other teams with a strong running game in a fast-paced no-huddle tempo.
“Hopefully that’ll lead us to points,” Banks said. “That’s who we are so we can’t change that now. Hopefully we can finish drives and not turn the ball over, that’s what we’re gonna go out there and try to execute.”
Banks says getting the plays into the quarterback and letting the quarterback sort of read the defense is a key to his offense, but really it’s all about tempo.
“It’s really all about tempo. It’s something you don’t necessarily see a benefit from in the first and third quarter. But it’s something hopefully that’ll help us in the second and fourth quarter,” Banks said. “Last year we played 11 games and we outscored our opponents eight times in the second half. The key for us this year is: that’s cool and dandy but you only won five, so we need to find a way to make sure we score enough points in the first half [so that] if we do increase the scoring margin in the second half we’ll come out victorious.”
Banks’ high-octane offense is led by junior QB Romario Johnson, who is coming off a season that saw him throw for 1,700 yards, will look to get the ball to skill player Davonta Jones.
“He’s gotten better as a quarterback, better as a passer this year. He’s grown because we’ve been able to get more quality coaches in, so his quarterback play as far as becoming a better passer will improve, and I think if that improves and his completion percentage improves that will definitely change the game,” Banks said. “As far as being a second-year starter he just feels comfortable in the offense. Davonta is Davonta. We just gotta find a way to get him the ball. When you get him the ball, exciting things can happen.”
Newton has the weapons on offense with Johnson, Jones and wide receiver Deandre Huff. They have six returning starters on defense, if you include two transfers. Berkmar will be their first test to see if they can put it together.