The Newton High School football team hits the road on week one for a relatively new opponent for the Railers.
Newton faces the Buhler Crusaders at 7 p.m. Friday in Buhler for a non-league contest.
Newton is coming off a 3-6 campaign last year, while Buhler finished 7-3 overall, 5-1 in Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division III play and 2-1 in district play.
The Crusaders lost to division rival McPherson 15-14 in the first round of the Class 4A, Division I playoffs.
Under the new classification system this season, Buhler moves to Class 4A, which will be a single division. Class 4A’s playoff system will be identical to what Class 5A and 6A are playing — eight regular-season games, followed by the playoffs.
Newton coach Chris Jaax said he was pleased with the progress his team made in the pre-season.
“It went well,” Jaax said. “We’re healthy. The kids got a lot of reps in. The kids have worked hard.”
Newton is taking on Buhler for the first time since 1997, a game Buhler won 30-22 on the last week of the season.
“They’ve got a great team,” Jaax said. “They won a state championship a few years ago (2013) and they played for another one before that. In the last nine or 10 years, they have been one of the best teams in the state in Class 4A. They are going to be a good opponent for us.”
Jaax expects multiple looks out of the Crusaders on offense – I, power I, traps, shotgun and spread.
“They do a variety of things,” Jaax said. “They like to throw the ball vertical. They are very-well coached. They have a very good fullback-linebacker and a very good offensive lineman-defensive lineman. They are a very physical team. That’s their MO. They are very aggressive.”
Jaax expects both teams to make mistakes, being in the first game of the season. He said the key will be to limit the mistakes and limit any damage after the mistakes.
“It’s going to come down to who can execute,” Jaax said. “Both teams are going to be excited to be out there. It’s going to be hot out there (high of 95 Friday), so we are going to have to be ready for that. We’re going to have to be able to react to the situations.”