In a rare, late Saturday evening matchup, Rome High School will travel to Sharp Stadium to take on Newton in a battle of spread offenses.
As you know, Rome wasn’t built in a day. The Wolves are switching over from the wing-t offense to the spread option, something Newton head coach Terrance Banks installed in his first year last season.
“They remind me a lot of us in a lot of things that they do that are similar,” Banks said.
“Rome is well-coached. A very well-coached team. They do the things that they are supposed to do pretty well. As far as alignments and assignments, they know where they’re supposed to be, and they play hard.”
Through two games, Newton is undefeated behind a high-powered rushing attack and a strikingly efficient passing game. The Rams’ defense faces this offense every day in practice and has faced the spread in their first two games so far this season.
“We faced the spread at Berkmar. Meadowcreek did some spread things, and of course we’re spread,” Banks said. “This is our third team, so I think that definitely aids in getting us lined up. I think our defense is starting to play better as the people on defense are starting to understand what their role is better.”
Banks brought in a new defensive coordinator in the off-season, and Newton’s first two games were a definitive tune-up for the defense to what the new defensive coordinator wants. Defense was Banks’ first response when he offered three keys to victory, which are defense, the running game and limiting turnovers.
The Rams have allowed just 21 points through two games, but Rome should offer Newton a bigger challenge in terms of offensive ability.
“We’re starting to, on defense, get some three-and-outs,” Banks said. “That’ll be key because of tempo. We haven’t had to play more than 40-something plays yet in a game. I think that’ll definitely be different on Saturday. I think we’ll have to play a lot more. I think if the defense can get us some three-and-outs, I think that’ll be key for us.”
The running game
“We’ve been able to run the ball well the last two games, so running the ball will be definitely key for us,” Banks said.
Rams’ quarterback Romario Johnson is a dual-threat on offense, and he’s accumulated over 800 yards of offense in the first two games. Johnson’s rushing ability will be key as he takes pressure off the running backs and opens up the passing game as well.
No turnovers, no problem. The Rams have been good at taking care of the ball this season with only one turnover
“We’ve been safe with the football so far this year,” Banks said. “We had one turnover last week, but we caused about three or four more. So I think if we can win the turnover battle, that’ll be key for us as well.”
The Rams are welcoming back a key piece to their offensive line in Vinny Jengelly, who had been injured, and not a game too late as the Rams get into the meat of their schedule. The play of the Ram’s offensive line will continue to be a factor in the run game.
“They’ve played well so far,” Banks said. “I think having experience helps. We’ve been without a two-year starter on the offensive line. Somebody that’s made all-region before, Vinny Jengelly, he’s back from his injury that he suffered in the spring. He’s probably about 85 percent now, but he’ll be able to play for us. Hopefully, he’ll be 100 percent by the time Lowndes comes [around]. So anytime you get a captain and a two-year starter, somebody that made the all-region back, you expect better things out of the offensive line.”