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PREP FOOTBALL: Five things learned from Rockdale at Newton
Josh Hardeman
Newton showed off the talents of young running backs like sophomore Josh Hardeman during Friday's blowout win over rival Rockdale County. - photo by Anthony Banks

COVINGTON, Ga. -- With one final regular season game left, the Newton Rams were looking for a win to take momentum into the postseason as they faced their rival and County Line Classic game foe, Rockdale County Friday night. Coming into the game, the Rams had beaten Rockdale in the last three meetings by a combined score of 107-44. The Rams would take the game, and the trophy once again with a fairly dominant 49-21 win. Here are five things I learned in tonight’s cross-county showdown. 

1. Nuru Tinch, continues to be Nuru Tinch. He is committed to UAB, but that school has a steal at running back when it comes to the Newton senior. He is an SEC level talent – yeah, I said it – and that will be proven when he begins to dominate at the next level. He has truly been special for the Rams the last couple of seasons. He ran through the Bulldogs defense on several occasions including a score that looked very similar to something Oakland Raiders running back, Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch would do. He’s fast. He’s physical. He is everything that could help carry Newton past the first round of the playoffs.

2. Don’t count the others in the backfield out, though. Adarius Thomas, took a screen pass and bolted 68 yards down the field for a touchdown. Late in the game, Josh Hardeman ran in two touchdowns on his own. Yes, Tinch is a beast in the Ram’s backfield, but it would be a crime to not say that they are loaded in that position and have been all season. The future looks bright as well, even with the departure of Tinch after this season. 

3. Flags, Flags, and more Flags. It is nothing new to recent Sharp Stadium games. Newton and Grayson combined for 34 penalties two weeks ago. Alcovy and Heritage had several in their game at Sharp last week as well. Newton and Rockdale would continue the trend of hosting a referee crew that loves their yellow hankies. At one point, the game had nine plays in a row with flags thrown. Thankfully, both teams cleaned up things in the second half, and making for a smoother game in the last two quarters. 

4. Special Shout out. I would feel awfully guilty if I did not mention the Newton Sound Factory, the cheerleaders, and the Aries dance squads that were consistently hype throughout the entire game. They were flat out having fun on senior night, and at certain points, they were drawing my attention away from the game, and on to them. Not only that, but they were drawing a huge crowd in front of them as well, who enjoyed their performances all night long. Props to all three teams and their coaches/instructors for making noise and entertaining the crowd and myself throughout the entire course of the game!

5. What’s Next? With the win, the Rams end the regular season with a 7-3 record and clinch the third seed in Region 8-AAAAAAA, meaning that their season is not over yet. They will now travel to Parkview (7-3, 5-1 in Region 7-AAAAAAA) in the first round of the playoffs. The question of whether quarterback Myron Middlebrooks will play or not looms large, but regardless, I fully expect Newton coach Terrance Banks to have his team focused and ready to make a deep run in the postseason.