The Newton High School football team has endured a killer schedule through the first six weeks of the season, staying in each game, but unable to get the win.
The Railers hope to reverse their fortunes when facing Salina South at 7 p.m. Friday in Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division I play at Salina District Stadium.
South enters play 1-4. The sole win for the Mustangs was 55-35 against Campus Sept. 18 at home.
A game against Derby Sept. 25 was canceled because of COVID-19 cases at Derby.
Newton fell to Goddard 37-17 last week. Newton pulled within three points late in the third quarter, but gave up a field goal and two touchdowns late. The Railers also hampered by turnovers in the game.
Newton enters the week shorthanded because of players quarantined because of the COVID-19 outbreak. The junior varsity game scheduled for Monday against Goddard had to be canceled.
"The kids are doing well in practice," Newton coach Chris Jaax said. "It’s a little bit better because we have a little bit more time to prepare for the change in personnel. Last week, we didn’t have any chance to prepare for the change. We know what the situation is."
Jaax said he’s got about 21 to 22 regular varsity players, along with some freshmen dressed to fill out the squad.
"Losing a couple of starters and all of our JV, we don’t really have any backup," Jaax said. "We try to prepare kids for different things. If some of our freshmen kids give us an opportunity to win, they will get a chance to play."
This will be Newton’s first game against a team with more than two losses (the combined record of the Railers’ previous opponents is 26-6), but Jaax said the team can’t have a letdown.
"Salina South is a good team," Jaax said. "They are having some struggles like we are. It’s a little bit different. Their running back is really good. They are going to make sure he gets the ball. They have a good passing game as well. Defensively, they are well coached. They are going to try and prevent big plays and make it difficult to run the ball."
South is led by quarterback Weston Fries, a sophomore who has hit 64 of 124 passes for 861 yards with nine touchdowns and four interceptions. Brady Cox has rushed 98 times for 464 yards and seven touchdowns. Colin Schreiber has 27 catches for 381 yards receiving and four touchdowns.
Owen Bulleigh leads the defense with 49 total tackles and an interception.
Newton’s Ben Schmidt is approaching the 2,000-yard mark passing for the season. Schmidt has hit 129 of 228 passes for 1,717 yards with 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Kenyon Forest has 102 rushing attempts for 452 yards and five touchdowns. Forest has 16 catches for 137 yards and three touchdowns.
Peyton Maxwell has 47 catches for 790 yards and seven touchdowns. Maxwell also has hit two of two passes for 72 yards and two touchdowns. Xzavion Martin has 24 catches with 381 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Jake Schmidt has 19 catches for 238 yards receiving and a touchdown.
Dehann Nelson has 48 total tackles, 35 solo, with 10 tackles for a loss. Nick Antonowich has 45 total tackles, 32 solo.
Newton has two games remaining before the playoffs.
"We just need some wins," Jaax said. "That’s the big thing. We’ve got to get some momentum."