Newton has a chance to move to .500 overall tonight when it takes on Douglass at Sharp Stadium at 7:30 p.m. More importantly, the Rams can pick up their third region win on the year and move one step closer to a playoff berth.
"This is a must win," head coach Nick Collins said. "I wouldn’t call it a statement game. It’s more of a chance for us to show that we can play with what people consider to be more of an athletic team. Of course anything can happen in this region, but we can only depend on us to get into the post season."The Rams have been inconsistent at times so far this year. Two weeks ago M.L. King throttled the Rams 56-0 at home. But last week they looked good in every phase of the game as they defeated Greenbrier 28-14 on the road.
"It’s about trying to get a young team to understand that the competition level changes from week to week," Collins said. "We have to be able to play a good game and then come back to work on Monday with total focus on the next team. This Monday I thought we did that."
Demetrius McCray had his best all-around game against Greenbrier. He ran and threw for a touchdown and kept his team ahead all night. The Rams will need more of the same as Douglass thumped them 47-0 last year.
Collins plans to use McCray and backup Tyree Williams at the same time in hopes the two will give his team another offensive dimension.
"Demetrius is our quarterback and is not in danger of being replaced," Collins said. "We would still like to get Williams some game experience because he is the next quarterback. Our thought process was that by playing [Tyree] Williams, that we could then throw it to Demetrius which would give us a boost in our passing game."
Consistency seems to be the next step for Newton’s program. Collins’ young group is still learning how to close out games. But the difference has been noticeable, especially in the running game.
"We have guys on the same page for once and we have stayed true to what we want to do," Collins said about the differences in his team this year. "Last year we did too much on defense and we never established a running game. Just think, last year we averaged fifteen rushes a game and so far we have had three games where we had over fifty rushes."
The two teams match up almost identically from a scoring standpoint. The Rams are scoring 18 points a game while giving up 25.4 where as the Astros come in at 18.0 and 26.0 respectively.
Defensively, the Rams played well last week and held the Wolfpack to 14 points. After giving up 56 two weeks ago, the Rams will need to keep it close in order to have a shot at a win.
"Last year I was too tight and I made everyone around me tight and caused us to stop having fun," he said. "Now that were having fun it appears that we are playing better."
On paper, Newton and Douglass seem to match up well. But Collins is cautiously optimistic about tonight’s game. The Rams have been up and down and he said you never know what you’re going to get until his team takes the field.
"I wish I knew which team is going to show up," he said. "I hope that the team that controlled the line of scrimmage and ran the ball last Friday comes back. The bottom line is we are in a place not many thought we would be and now we have to find a way to make the next jump in building a solid program and that’s winning a big region game."