Storylines to follow:
Can the Rams continue to rise? Newton’s entering its third year under head coach Terrance Banks and the Rams have gotten better every year under him. In Banks’ first year the team went 5-6 (4-2 Region 2-AAAAAA), but lost to McEachern in the first round. There was no sophomore slump for Banks as he lead the team to a 7-4 record including the playoffs (two games were cancelled due to bad weather) where the Rams advanced to the elite eight upsetting Valdosta in the first round and defeating Central Gwinnett in the second round. Now it’s time for the trifecta.
Newton lost some talented two-way players in Davonta Jones, Nuka Yobo and AJ Palomino. On defense the Rams have some talent at ever level with junior outside linebacker/strong safety Jaquan Henderson, senior defensive back Jacobi Francis and senior defensive end Jazztin Jefferson.
On offense Newton still has its top notch QB in senior Romario Johnson, an all-purpose yards monster. Junior running back Kurt Taylor Jr. headlines a trio of Newton backs (Augustus Murray and Artice Hobbs finish out the trio) that can all run the ball well.
Can Johnson stay healthy? Johnson is a true talent at QB, but he’s had his injuries here and there, if he can stay healthy throughout the season, Newton has as good a chance as anybody to play deep in the playoffs.
How much of an impact will Newton’s offseason weight training program have, if any? Newton lost its last playoff game to Etowah after leading late in the game with minutes to go. After a turnover, Etowah pounded the ball down the Rams’ throat and Newton got bullied and had no answer. That prompted the Rams to get into the weight room, but was it enough to get Newton to the final four? We’ll see.
QB: Senior Romario Johnson (No. 8). Johnson wants to throw for over 3,000 yards and rush for over 500.
RB: Junior Kurt Taylor Jr. (No. 2). Taylor Jr. wants to rush for 1,500 yards.
WR: Senior Deandre Huff Sr. (No. 3). Huff wants to average 100 yards and one TD per game.
DL: Junior Deion Watson (No. 93). Watson wants at least 15 tackles for loss this season.
LB: Junior Jaquan Henderson (No. 1). Henderson wants 20 sacks this season.
DB: Senior Jacobi Francis (No. 7). Francis wants the secondary to have 15 INTs this season
KR/PR: Senior Augustus Murray (No. 22). Murray wants 500 return yards total.
Projected award winners:
MVP: Romario Johnson
Most Improved player: Jacobi Francis
Practice warrior: Kurt Taylor/Jordan Reed
Defensive player to watch: Jaquan Henderson
Offensive player to watch: Deandre Huff
Breakout candidate: Augustus Murray
Projected starters on offense and defense:
QB: Romario Johnson DE: Jazztin Jefferson
RB: Kurt Taylor Jr. DT: Deion Watson
WR: Deandre Huff NG: Breone Adkins
WR: JJ Holloman DT: Tim Aken
WR: Artice Hobbs OLB: Jaquan Henderson
TE: Dante Johnson MLB: Tony Collins
OL: Karlen Singleton WLB: Jeremiah Bundrage
OL: Chance Harrison CB: Jacobi Francis
OL: Alex Jacobs CB: Tay Gowan
OL: Dakori West FS: Quentin Dixon
OL: Jordan Reed SS: Jaison Taylor
Head coach: Terrance Banks
Assist HC/QB: Camiel Grant
Offensive Coordinator/OL: Lewis Kelly
Defensive Coordinator/DB: Spencer Fortson
RB/9th Grade OC: Jon Wilson
WR/JV OC: Kevin Barnes
H-Backs/TE: Johnny Burdette
DL/9th Grade HC: Kermit Robinson
OLB/DE/JV HC: Andre Byrd
LB/Special Teams Coordinator: Tommy Gregory
DB/Strength & Conditioning & Recruiting Coordinator: Joshua Skelton
JV LBs: Tony Collins
JV DBs: Levar Greene
Equipment Manager: Kenny Price
Stats: Reggie Wilcox
Head Athletic Trainer: Kelsey Ney
8/21 7:30 p.m.
@ Berkmar (Lilburn, GA)
Vs. Meadowcreek (Norcross, GA)
9/4 7:30 p.m.
@ Rome (Rome, GA)
9/11 7:30 p.m.
@ Westlake (Atlanta, GA)
9/18 7:30 p.m.
@ Lowndes (Valdosta, GA)
Location: Lowndes High School Preview Game
10/2 7:30 p.m.
@ Tucker (Tucker, GA)
10/9 7:30 p.m.
Vs. Alcovy (Covington, GA)
10/23 7:30 p.m.
@ Lovejoy (Lovejoy, GA)
10/30 7:30 p.m.
Vs. Lakeside (Atlanta, GA)
11/6 7:30 p.m.
Vs. Rockdale County (Conyers, GA)