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PREP ATHLETICS: Rams make ‘great strides’
Newton AD talks program’s improvement
A Final Four finish by Newton’s boys basketball team was a major highlight for Rams athletics in 2021-2022. - photo by Covington News/File Photo

COVINGTON, Ga. — With the 2021-22 school year now completed, Newton High School athletics has begun preparing for next year. 

But, before moving on to the 2022-23 preparations, athletic director Vincent Byams recapped the past year in athletics for the Rams. 

Byams recognized “great strides” of progression across all Rams programs, too. 

“All in all, I can see the improvement in all our programs,” Byams said. “We have the coaches out there being committed to the kids and the kids being committed to the program.” 

Beginning with the fall season’s sports, football and softball were the first two programs that came to mind for Byams. 

In football, the Rams finished 4-5 overall and were absent from the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Even so, Byams said the team was “a play or two away” in many games throughout the season.

The Lady Rams softball team qualified for the state playoffs in 2021, though, the team lost in the first round. Newton was swept by Newnan 2-1, 2-0 in games one and two, respectively. 

Byams said that the team “had opportunities” to get a win, but it didn’t pan out that way for the Lady Rams. 

Moving on to the winter season, Byams recognized both Newton basketball teams and the success they both enjoyed this past year. 

For the Lady Rams, they were the No. 3 seed in the state playoffs and were eliminated in the first round. Byams stressed how injuries were a huge factor in the final outcome for the Lady Rams, but he was still impressed to see what the team accomplished in spite of the setbacks. 

The boys basketball team seemed to be the biggest highlight of the Rams’ athletic accomplishments, though. 

For the second year in a row, the Rams were region runner-up and advanced to the Final Four of the state playoffs before Norcross bounced them from championship contention. 

Byams acknowledged how the pure talent that coexists on the Rams’ squad has paid huge dividends for the on-court success. 

As for springs sports, the Rams baseball team was under the direction of a first-year head coach in Derwin McNealy. On top of that, a lot of freshmen and sophomores competed on the varsity level this past year. And Newton qualified for the state playoffs. 

Byams said he noticed some “competitive juice” in the team despite many challenges facing the team.

For both soccer teams, Byams said each competed well overall. 

The girls soccer team earned two non-region wins in 2022 after not even fielding a team in 2021. 

Rounding out the athletic year for Newton were the boys and girls track teams. 

Each team had runners qualify for and finish at the state meet.

Concerning next year’s plans for even better success, Byams said it’s all about each program being able to get over the next hump. Byams stressed how it begins with everyone at Newton and how they prepare over the summer. 

“It starts with us,” Byams said. “We control how hard we work in the weight room, how hard we practice and if we’re listening to your coaches. I know all of our coaches are showing them that and they’re starting to believe it. It’s something more tangible now. In years past, it’s like, ‘Oh, we’re going to play Parkview. We can’t beat them.’ Then, when we start seeing that we can beat some of these teams, then [the players] can see it.”