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Rams roll to No. 9 in Class 7A
Undefeated Newton ranked for first time in 11 years
Johnson TD
Newton’s Zion Johnson (20) runs for a long touchdown during the second quarter of the Rams’ game Friday night against McEachern. The Rams (3-0) moved up to No. 9 in the Class 7A rankings after toppling the Indians 39-21. - photo by Anthony Banks | The Covington News

COVINGTON, Ga. — On Monday morning, the 3-0 Newton High School Rams learned some historic news. 

Through Week Five of the regular season, the Rams come in ranked No. 9 in Class 7A standings released by Georgia High School Football Daily. 

This is the first time in 11 years that a Newton football team has been ranked. 

Head coach Camiel Grant Jr. realized the significance of being ranked, but said his team isn’t letting that steal their focus. 

“I know it’s exciting for the kids, the community and the school,” Grant said. “But the biggest challenge with any team sport is finding a way to enjoy success while, at the same time, stay hungry for where you want to go.”

So far this season, the Rams have enjoyed lots of success in their non-region schedule. 

And it all started with Newton’s suffocating defense that has shut down opposing offenses for the most part. They’ve even lived up to their nickname, “Blue Swarm” by seeming to be all over the field all game long. 

In the three wins, the Rams have only surrendered 11.3 points per game, 16 total first downs, less than 200 total rushing yards and have held opposing quarterbacks to just a 29% completion rate. 

On third down, their opponents have converted four times in 28 attempts (14.3%) and no one has yet to convert a fourth down try in four attempts. They’ve also blocked a PAT against Langston Hughes which helped win the game in Week One. 

All of the defensive statistics include a regulation shutout and two forced safeties which have literally helped put points on the board. 

No one player can be singled out for leading the effort on the defensive side of the ball, either. It’s been a complete defensive dominance from the front four to the secondary. 

Nolan McCamy has a team-high 26 tackles with four other Rams having 15 or more total tackles. Derrick Von-Hubbard leads the team with four sacks with Olan Robinson recording three tackles for loss. 

Newton’s lone turnover of the season came off a Nick Benton interception against Langston Hughes. 

According to Grant, the entire team’s identity has been centered around a strong defense. 

“We’re still defense first,” Grant said. “That’s who we want to be and stop people.” 

Offensively, the Rams have slowly progressed to producing better results on that side of the ball. 

Through the first three games, Newton has tallied 900 rushing yards as well as 450 yards through the air. They’re scoring an average of 24 points per game.

This past Friday, however, the Rams put together their best offensive performance thus far in 2021. 

Against McEachern, they rushed for 398 yards on 45 attempts (8.8 yards per carry). They’ve officially pounded the ball by committee, too. 

Rontravious Perry, Jehden Robinson, Zion Johnson and even quarterback Jevarra Martin Jr., have headlined the efficient rushing attack for the Rams. 

According to Grant, having a multidimensional running game makes the Rams even more dangerous on offense. 

“To be able to run the football the way we want to, it’s very tough today to have one guy who can do that,” Grant explained. “So, we’re intentional to make sure we have several running backs who can carry the load.” 

Five weeks into the season, it seems as if both sides of the ball are gelling together at the perfect time, especially with region play beginning in two weeks. 

Right now, the focus has been to keep the players’ attention to detail to help improve upon this early season success. 

As a matter of fact, Grant and his staff have given their team an interesting challenge moving forward. But, he believes, if the players answer the call, they can keep progressing throughout the season. 

“One of the things we talked about in our meeting was, don’t be afraid to be boring,” Grant said. “Let’s not deviate. Stay with the routine from the weight room, to watching film to the practice field. Let’s just stay with our routine.”