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The Big 6
Newton and Rockdale teams' outlook for 2014-2015 football season
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Now, less than two weeks away, the 2014-2015 high school football season is slowly creeping up on us. Last year, the six schools from Newton and Rockdale County combined for 32 wins. Four of the teams had winning records, and each team has something to look forward to for the upcoming season.

The Eagles haven’t had a losing season since 2005, which is a pretty remarkable feat. Although they didn’t make the playoffs last year, the Eagles went 5-5 and had a solid season. This year, starting quarterback Austin Holloway is a year older and more experienced. The team is pretty young — Eagles head coach Rick Hurst said that he expects to start a lot of sophomores on both sides of the ball. Hurst says this year is a rebuilding year, but he still expects the team to compete, and he believes that if they improve each week they’ll have a shot at the playoffs.

Fresh off back-to-back seasons in the playoffs, the Rams, led by Terrance Banks, are looking to make Newton history with three straight playoff appearances. Senior receiver Davonte Jones, who was all-region last year, is easily the Rams’ best player on offense. Banks says that he has to find ways to get him the ball more, but it’s his starting quarterback, junior Romario Johnson, that he needs to improve for the Rams to have success this season. Johnson is coming off a season in which he accounted for 2,500 yards of offense and Banks expects his triggerman to take it up a notch this season. The Rams also need to improve on the offensive line, allowing Johnson time to get Jones the ball or run himself in Banks’ coveted spread offense. The pieces are there, and they just have to fall in place for the Rams to make history.

The Tigers are coming off a strong season. They finished with a 7-4 record, a trip to the playoffs and are looking to have back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since the 2008-2009 seasons. Of the three Newton County teams, Alcovy is arguably the youngest. Coach Hoffman says that he will probably have to rely on more freshmen than in year’s past, but that this class is the best he’s seen in 15 years of coaching. Ar’mon “Bubba” Hickson, who transferred over from Newton, is possibly going to be the team’s starting QB. Hickson is coming off a busy summer, which he participated in about six different camps. He earned top quarterback honors at the VTO Elite 100 camp in Atlanta. Hoffman is a good leader, but the Tigers may be too young to make a difference.

With a new coach in Wendell Early, the Patriots are looking for their fifth-straight winning season, as Early brings a new look/tempo to the team. Early plans to play the game at a high pace, sort of like Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles. He has used the summer to get the team conditioned to his liking, so that they can play uptempo and fast in his spread option offense. Also new to the team is David Turner, a promising quarterback from South Carolina and the team’s only senior quarterback. Turner will push current starting quarterback Anthony Stanley for playing time, and possibly the starting job. It’s also possible the two shot-callers could split reps at the position. Early says that he wants to take it one game at a time and that he tells his team to focus on the now, and not look ahead too much. \

Head coach Venson Elder has turned the program around as of late, and the team looks poised to compete to not only get in the playoffs, but possibly win a game. The Bulldogs went 6-4 last year, but missed on the post-season. On the defensive side of the ball, the Bulldogs will be strong led by highly touted defensive back T.J. Warren. Last year, although the Bulldogs had a winning record overall, the team had a losing record in region play, which cost them a shot at the playoffs. They’ll look to correct that this year, as they start the season off against non-region rival Heritage High School.

Salem hasn’t been known for their football team in the past but, head coach John Starr could change that this season. The past two years, the team has five wins combined and 15 losses. Starr’s team has height at the receiver position, and he says that there’s more bulk on the team than the past few years. Starr’s main priority on offense and defense is the running game. He says that the team plans to run the ball heavy and be able to stop the run. With the added bulk, the team may be able to do just that, and a winning season could be on the horizon.