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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Newton teams get in front of crowd

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  • The Newton High School and middle school fall sports teams, as well as a number of students in fall activities gathered at Fischer Field, Willis Gym and Chisholm Middle School for the annual Newton Fall Sports Fest.
    The events features introductions of all the fall sports teams, along with performances by the marching band, Railiners dance team and cheerleaders.
    The high school and middle school football, volleyball and soccer teams all scrimmaged Friday night.
    First-year Railer football coach Nate Wollenberg took his team out in front of the lights and crowds for the first time for a scrimmage that lasted about 45 minutes.
    "It's always nice to have a scrimmage under the lights with a crowd to get the jitters out," Wollenberg said. "It was fun for the kids. We're working to install a new offense and a new defense, and there were some things we liked from what we saw tonight, and some things we need to work on."
    The defense dominated most of the night, as the offense posted just one touchdown and struggled to get first downs.
    "The defense was playing fast," Wollenberg said. "Coach (Tony) Hein had them coming off the ball. There were a lot of positive things we could see from that side of the ball."
    The Railers open the season next week at Maize, which finished 5-4 last season.
    "Maize is a really good football team," Wollenberg said. "They have some skill guys who put up some really big numbers last year. They were very talented. Most of them are back. Their line is going to be solid. We're going to have our hands full. We're going to work on the basics, try to eliminate mistakes and play smart football."
    The Railer soccer team scrimmaged for a half, finishing tied 2-2. Newton opens the season Monday at Valley Center, followed by Andover on the road Tuesday. Newton plays six games in the first two weeks.
    "It's going to be an interesting season," Newton coach Scott Jantzi said. "We've got some good talent on the senior squad. We just have to find that leadership to take over and help develop the younger players. We have a very young bench, and they're going to have to grow up quick. We're going to find out a lot in the next two weeks."
    With so many games so early, Jantzi is concerned about match fitness.
    "We haven't had a full-out intra-squad," Jantzi said. "We played for a half. It looked like our conditioning level is not where it needs to be right now. Hopefully, I can manage the game well on Monday, and give breaks when they are needed, and hopefully come out with a victory."
    Page 2 of 2 - The varsity volleyball team scrimmaged just one day before the start of the season at the Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division I-II pre-season classic at Hutchinson. Play starts at 8 a.m.
    "It would have been nice to get a full practice in today," Newton coach Jamie Dibbens said. "After the scrimmage, I was a little concerned about players knowing where they need to be all the time. I hope we can shake off tonight, get it out of our system and be ready to go."
    Newton is in the same pool as Salina Central, Salina South, Campus, McPherson, Andover and Andover Central. McPherson is top-ranked in Class 4A and is the defending state champion there.
    "Our pool is incredibly tough," Dibbens said. "Andover just had a girl that signed with WSU. McPherson and Andover Central are good. We played McPherson this summer and they are very, very good. I told the girls, I'm not as concerned where we are with wins and losses. We need to play to win and fight to win, but we need to learn to play with each other and learn about ourselves."

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