Rams rejoice as Tucker beats Lovejoy
Newton’s upset loss to Lovejoy took the Rams’ out of first place in the region and put their destiny in the hands of Tucker, who Newton had beat 37-20 to begin region play. For Newton to reclaim first place, Tucker had to beat Lovejoy and of course Newton had to beat Lakeside - a team with just one win in region play.
Newton handled its business on Friday and beat the Vikings 53-0 on homecoming. Tucker took an early 21-0 lead over Lovejoy, but the Wildcats came clawing back and made it a one-possession game at 28-21 late in the third quarter.
The Tigers would win 31-21 to put Newton back as the No. 1 seed with a chance to host the first two rounds of the state playoffs and possibly more depending on a coin toss.
After an elite eight appearance as a No. 3 seed in the playoffs last year, the Rams are poised to make another run, but this time as a No. 1 seed with some help from their home crowd.
Now, all the Rams have to do is beat their rival Rockdale team on Friday and they’ll win their first region championship since 1987.
Coming off a lopsided 53-0 victory against Lakeside, the Rams are in sole possession of first place in Region 2-AAAAAA after Tucker defeated Lovejoy on Friday. Rockdale is the only thing standing in the way of Newton winning its first region championship since 1987 as the two rivals are set to face-off on Friday. Newton head coach Terrance Banks talked about the Rams focusing on Rockdale and what it would mean to win the region championship in this Q&A.
The Covington News: Obviously we know the stakes are high for you guys to beat Rockdale after Tucker’s win over Lovejoy. What are you telling your team as far as you guys being able to play at Sharp until you meet another No. 1 seed?
Terrance Banks: Nothing. We’re playing Rockdale this week. That’s not even in our conversation about region championships. We’re playing Rockdale. That’s the only thing that anybody at Newton High School cares about. They don’t care about a region championship this week, they don’t care about being the No. 1 seed until we see another No. 1 seed. We’re playing Rockdale.
CN: If you guys do in, you are the region champions and it’s the first time since, I believe, 1987. So coach what would that accomplishment mean for you?
Banks: For me personally, it’s a confirmation for my players and coaches. It’s been since 1987. Most of my kids weren’t born in 1987, so they have never seen their school win a region championship. They will be doing something that a lot of people have not seen [since] that time. Some of their parents played or were around then, but it’s been a long time since then. For me it’s just a congratulatory statement for my players and coaches to be able to win a region championship if we’re able to handle business next Friday against Rockdale.
CN: Playing in the playoffs and things like that, it’s always about peaking at the right time and from what you saw with your team against Lakeside do you feel that you guys are on that path to playing that full 48 minutes?
Banks: I think we’re getting there. It’s some stuff that we have to clean up from last night that we’ll get back in the lab on Monday and go to work on, but I think we’re getting closer to being able to do a lot of things that you’re gonna have to do if you’re gonna be able to play long in the extra season.
CN: Is there anything specifically you think you guys need to clean up or is it just little things?
Banks: From my perspective it’s everything. You want more explosive plays on offense, you want no mistakes on special teams. On defense we want to continue to rally to the ball and tackle well so I think there are things that we can improve on in all three phases of the game.
CN: You’re facing one of your longtime-friends in coach Venson Elder, but it’s a rivalry game. Is there anything you’d like to add about the game?
Banks: It’s a special event. Long-term, Rockdale and Newton is the longest rivalry there is. For our kids nowadays the Eastside game holds more meaning for a rivalry, but when I see alumni, when I talk to people who graduated from Newton County High School, all they ever talk about is never losing to Rockdale County. That in itself makes it a big thing. Our kids are very competitive with Rockdale. Rockdale sees us as one of their chief rivals so it’ll be a very exciting game from that matter. It’s one of those things where it’s kind of good news/bad news. Yeah we can be region champions, but nobody wants to go into the playoffs by losing to Rockdale. The good news is I think the boys will be focused on the game this week and won’t be worried about the extra stuff.