COVINGTON -- Newton head football coach Cortez Allen is hoping to duplicate the same magic as Class AA Brooks County's 28-24 upset win over Valdosta as Newton heads south to take on the Wildcats at 8 p.m. on Friday.
Other teams the Rams (0-2) coaches are using as inspiration include Parkview with its 22-7 win over Grayson, UL-Monroe's 34-31 win over Arkansas and Oregon State's 10-7 win over Wisconsin.
"It just proves to us that on any given day anybody can beat anybody from college to the pros. The upsets are part of the game, that's why you play. That's our goal, to get on the 'say it ain't so' list,"
Before the Rams can realistically hope to pull off the upset they have to find a way to offensively move the ball down field and score for the first time this season.
Coming off a bye week, the Rams have been able to get their offense patched up with the return of offensive linemen Corey Thomas and Daniel Durden and with Darren Garner on the brink of coming back. The week off has also allowed running back Darius Dean to come back even though Allen found that Toyous Avery and James Hardeman did a good job in his absence.
"James has done an outstanding job for us. We like the way he runs the ball but we really like his attitude. When he gets the ball, he runs the ball with attitude," Allen said.
However, getting the starting line up back is only half the problem. Newton also has to find a way to keep drives alive by not turning the ball over or putting themselves in second or down and long situations due to penalties.
"We have to get rid of the turnover bug, be consistent and just grind the football," Allen said. "We've tried to change our mentality as far as what we want to do in moving the football."
Allen said Newton's defense has always been the foundation of the program. This week they're going to have to back it as the Wildcats (2-1) rebounded after their loss to Brooks County with a 45-0 win over Crisp County. For Newton to be successful and get a win, the Rams defense is going to have to slow down an offense that gained 338 yards on the ground last week. Their running game depends on the Nelson Herring and Malcolm Joseph. Both backs had 11 carries with Herring gaining 163 yards with Joseph rushing for 86. Sixty-one of Herring's yards came on one run as he was able to weave his way through the Crisp County defense. Joseph is a double threat as he had two catches for 61 yards.
"Their receivers are decent, but the two kids that scare me are the two running backs they have. They're outstanding backs, a great one and two punch. We have to minimize their opportunity to break long runs," Allen said.
Even though the Wildcats have the ability to move the ball and put a lot of points on the scoreboard, they also have a weakness which Allen hopes his defense will be able to exploit.
"Valdosta has some issues with turnovers so when they give us opportunities we have to capitalize completely and that means putting the ball in the end zone. What I'm preaching to our coaches and my kids on defense is that we have to continue to create turnovers. That's just my mentality as a defensive-minded coach," Allen said. "When I was a defensive coordinator that was my mentality, we don't need the offense. We can score points and we can stop people to win the ball game. That's what I'm trying to instill in our defense."