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Rams look to wrap up region
Newton travels to Lovejoy for 2-AAAAAA title
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Newton hasn't been able to call its football team region champions since 1987, and can break the 25-year drought today.

The Rams travel to Lovejoy for a showdown to find out who is the top Region 2-AAAAAA team as both enter with unblemished region records.

Lovejoy started the 2012 season with a 44-6 victory over Mundy's Mill, before falling to Colquitt County 14-7 in the second week of the season. Since then, the Wildcats (7-1, 4-0) have gone on to win six straight games.

Lovejoy, which sits at No. 9 in the Associated Press rankings, has done so convincingly winning its last three games by a total of 151-0. The Wildcats defeated Rockdale County 41-0, followed by Morrow 50-0 and Luella 60-0.

Newton is riding a three-game win streak, including a 27-6 victory - its highest scoring game - over Rockdale last week. The winning streak follows four straight defeats to open the season for the Rams.

Rockdale coach Cortez Allen feels the way his team is playing lately matches up well against the state's highest classification's ninth-best team.

"We're telling our kids that they've got a lot of good things going right now," Allen said. "(The Wildcats) are just like us. They put their pants on one leg at a time."

While the Rams (3-4, 3-0) are averaging just 9.6 points per game, compared to 41.6 points per game by the Wildcats, Newton has had a strong defensive season. The Rams began the year with a 32-0 loss to Eastside, a 31-0 loss at Lowndes and a 31-7 loss at Valdosta. Since then, the Rams have given up just 6.5 points per game.

Last week against Rockdale Newton's defense was on full display, shutting down Rockdale's running game completely. The Rams held Rockdale to minus-9 yards and picked off quarterback Zuri Minfield twice.

The type of defensive domination over Rockdale last Friday has Newton not only looking to extend its streak but also feeling like it can play with the state's best.

"We've got to go into the ball game confident and understanding we're supposed to be here," Allen said. "They're not unbeatable by any means of the imagination."

Allen feels the Rams match up well against the Wildcats and, on paper, come out on top in two of the three phases of the game.

"Some areas I feel like we're going to have advantages and some areas there going to have advantages," Allen said. "Going in, in two out of the three phases of the game, I feel like we should win if we can make things happen in those phases I feel like we should have an opportunity."

Allen feels his defense and special teams have the advantage, while Lovejoy's offense is its strength.

"They have a great team, a dynamic running back and a really good defensive line," Allen said.

Lovejoy and Newton haven't played each other prior to this season's reclassification, putting them both in the state's newest and biggest classification, AAAAAA, but Allen is still familiar with the Wildcats.

Allen has been keeping up with Lovejoy due to the fact that a former teammate at Middle Georgia College, Nick Carson is the Wildcats defensive backs coach and his first cousin Derek Smith is the quarterbacks coach. Newton's outside linebacker coach's former offensive coordinator is also a coach at Lovejoy.

"There's a lot of relationships there; they are coached well," Allen said. "I followed Lovejoy a lot last year."

No matter how much Allen can tell his team about past experiences with Lovejoy, however, his message to Newton this week has been cliché but to the point:

"Just go out and lay it all out on the line, go out and try to have the best game possible, give it everything you have, leave it out on the field and make sure you have no regrets," Allen said.