A whole lot of new faces will be featured on offense for the Newton High School football team, while a lot of returning faces will be featured on the defense when the Railers host the Maize Eagles at 7 p.m. Friday in the season opener at Fischer Field.
Newton is coming off a 1-8 campaign, falling to Valley Center 28-20 in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs. Maize was 7-3 last season, falling to Valley Center 27-13 in the second round of the playoffs.
“We have worked hard and we have a good attitude,” Newton coach Chris Jaax said of the pre-season. “We’re still a little bit sloppy, so we’re working at cleaning things up. It’s still early, so we have time to work on that.”
Jaax said the Railers are farther along in preparation than they were last season. Last year, the team had to adjust to a new coach and a new system. Going into this season, Jaax said the team is getting things down a little quicker.
“Right now, our twos can run our system on offense,” Jaax said. “Our defense is a lot farther along than they were at this time last year.”
Maize lost most of its offensive line to graduation, but does return running back Dalyn Johnson, who rushed for 1,539 yards and 27 touchdowns. The Maize defense returns seven starters from last year.
“Offensively, they return their top running back and their quarterback and they are both phenomenal players,” Jaax said. “Other than that, they don’t have a lot back on offense. Defensively, they return most of their players, so they are similar to us in that respect.”
Jaax said the key for the Railers will be to wrap up ball runners on defense and to keep control of the ball on offense.
“We can’t turn the ball over,” Jaax said. “If we can tackle their running back, we’ll do alright. The guy who gets there first needs to slow him down. The second wave of tacklers need to wrap him up and bring him down.”
Jaax expects few changes from Maize on offense, which ran a balanced attack predicated on establishing the run last season.
“They will use their running back a lot. Their coaches have been together for about six years, so I don’t expect a lot of changes,” Jaax said. “They may change a few things on defense, but I don’t expect a lot of changes.”