COVINGTON — There is a lot at stake in today’s 7:30 p.m. game between county rivals Newton and Alcovy at Homer Sharp Stadium.
The visiting Rams (1-3 overall, 0-0 in Region 2-AAAAAA) are hoping to reverse the trend of the last two road games being outscored 85-21 in non-region contests as well as playing on familiar surroundings. A win would not only be a welcomed relief it would also start their region play with a win.
“As I explained to them, the first four games were preseason,” Newton head coach Terrance Banks said. “Even though we’re the visiting team it still feels good being at Sharp with a large contagion of our fans to cheer us on.”
Alcovy (4-1, 1-0) is hoping to stay on top of the region standings while at the same time going for the county championship having beaten Eastside 20-10.
“One of the things we’ve always push towards our kids is that the next game is the most important. But there are some extra variables, it’s an inner-county rivalry and a region game,” Alcovy head coach Kirk Hoffman said. “When you look at those variables it’s a big game.”
Whoever wins the turnover battle has the best chance of remaining undefeated in region play. The Tigers almost let Luella get the win last week as a result of turnovers while the Rams gave the ball to Langston Hughes four times in their loss last week.
For Newton to get the win they are going to have to make the Tigers one dimensional. However, if the Rams prevent Alcovy Tristen Payne from running the ball, they will have to keep Tigers receiver Jaylin Penny from hurting them on passing plays.
“Teams are having a tough time stopping him (Penny). If we can take him out of the game that forces the quarterback to beat us. I think essentially we have a lot of team speed,” Banks said. “We can rally to the ball to counter a lot of things that they do.”
Unfortunately for the Rams, stopping Alcovy’s offense is just one part of the problem. The other part is that they have to find a way to put points on the board. Newton found them in the redzone four times but only walked away four times last week. On one occasion, they were looking at a first and goal before finding themselves in a fourth and goal from the 40-yard line.
“We’ve been emphasizing all week on redzone things,” Banks said. “Moving the ball hasn’t been a problem for us, it’s scoring.”
For an Alcovy victory, the Tigers defense will have to be solid. Even though the Rams have done a good job of stopping themselves, that is not something that Alcovy can count on every time. Offensively, they are going to have to keep Newton’s defense in check by making sure they stay on their blocks long enough while following their assignments. If they start to make mistakes then Newton’s speed will interrupt any play from developing making it a very long night.
“If you look at games, they’ve been in every game and have battled in every game. They have some kids that will make you pay with that speed,” Hoffman said. “We still have to work every week to put four good quarters together.”