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Special teams play could be deciding factor for Newton

• Who: East Coweta Indians (4-6) at Newton Rams (5-5)

• When: 7:30 p.m. today

• Where: Homer Sharp Stadium, Covington

• Last week: East Coweta lost 21-7 to Newnan; Newton defeated Morrow 40-0

• Series: East Coweta leads 2-0

• Last meeting: East Coweta won 23-8 (Sept. 30, 2011)

COVINGTON -- Newton head coach Cortez Allen is hoping that the same up-tempo offensive style that helped the Rams win the last two games of the regular season will work against East Coweta in the first round of the Class AAAAAA playoffs today at 7:30 p.m. at Homer Sharp Stadium.

While the Rams (5-5) may have a slight advantage on offense and defense, East Coweta (4-6) definitely has the advantage on special teams. An aspect of special teams play where Newton is usually a threat is kickoff return. However, the Indians kicker has the ability to put the ball into the end zone. He also is a threat even if Newton stops them from getting a first down with their kicker having a field goal range of 45 yards.

"We have to find a way to match them on special teams. Their kicker is pretty outstanding," Allen said. "He also punts the ball very well so we have to find a way to combat that. He's a weapon for them that can definitely change the field with one kick. We have to find a way to create some momentum in the special team game. We can't let them get too close."

Even though the Rams have played, and lost, twice to East Coweta having been in the same region, the 2012 Indians are not the same type of team Newton faced. East Coweta used to pound the ball through the middle of their front line slowly and steadily gaining yardage. Their main goal was a low-scoring while taking as much time off the clock as they could. But this year's team prefers to use their speed throwing the ball to score quickly.

"They're not as methodical as they've been in the past. I think that goes to our favor a little bit more," Allen said. "They're either going to be a quick-short throw team or a deep drop, long-ball team. That's what we've seen and what we're going to defend against. We feel confident about stopping them."

East Coweta's style of play is an advantage to Newton's defense because of the strength of their front line. The Rams' Kingsley Ejike and Treyvon Richardson have done a good job of keeping pressure on the backfield and stopping the opponents running game.

"We opened up the running game (against Morrow) and we're going to continue with that by giving them a heavy dose of (James) Hardeman. I think our kids liked that because you get into a rhythm," Allen said. "If we can get them to cheat down into the box we'll go over the top."