Railers again face toughest schedule

Mark Schnabel
The Kansan
Newton seior Jonah Remsberg is a returning second-team All-AV-CTL I selection.

Who to watch:

Senior Kenyon Forest, RB

Senior Jonah Remsberg, DB

Junior Ricky Parga, DL

Junior Collin Hershberger, K

Coach’s pick for top opposition:

League — Derby, Maize, Maize South, Hutchinson, Salina South, Campus.

Non-League — Andover Central, Goddard.


Sept. 3 @ Andover Central

Sept. 10 @ Derby

Sept. 17 Maize

Sept. 24 Hutchinson

Oct. 1 @ Maize South

Oct. 8 @ Goddard

Oct. 15 Salina South

Oct. 22 Campus

Oct. 29 Class 5A playoffs first round

Nov. 5 Class 5A playoffs second round

Nov. 12 Class 5A playoffs quarterfinals

Nov. 19 Class 5A semifinals

Nov. 27 Class 5A finals @ Carnie Smith Stadium, Pittsburg

In nearly every ballgame last season, the Newton High School football team may have been the best 2-7 team in the state.

The Railers will still have one of the toughest schedules in Class 5A, but will be looking for improvement in 2021.

Newton was 2-4 in Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division I play. The Railers fell to Hutchinson 46-41 in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.

Chris Jaax begins his sixth season as the Railers head coach. He is 12-33 at Newton.

Assistants include James Pfannestiel, Dylan Delk, Fred Schmidt, Patrick Watson, Jon Adkins, Evan Gilbert, Taylor Durham, Nic Parga, Tad Remsberg and Zach Esau.

“Players are confident and self-motivated,” Jaax said. “A lot of good leadership that wants to work hard and isn’t afraid to make the sacrifices necessary to be a top AV-CTL I team.

“We have the toughest schedule in the area. Our first six (opponents) were a combined 45-12 last year. All with a winning record. It’s a schedule written in a comic book.”

Top returnees include running back Kenyon Forest (5-9, 200, sr., RB, DL), who rushed for 855 yards last season with nine touchdowns and added 226 yards receiving; receiver Jake Schmidt (6-2, 175, sr., WR), who had 266 receiving yards and three touchdowns; defensive lineman Ricky Parga (5-9, 260, jr., DL), who had 22.5 tackles and 5.5 tackles for a loss; defensive back Jonah Remsberg (6-0, 170, sr., DB), who had six interceptions; and kicker Collin Hershberger (jr., K), who hit six of seven field goals last season.

Remsberg was a second-team All-AV-CTL I selection last season.

In total, Newton returns four offensive and five defensive starters and 18 total letterwinners.

Other returning starters include Luke Hirsh (6-1, 180, sr., WR, DB), Ben Reyes (5-10, 170, sr., WR, DB), Joe Slechta (6-2, 170, sr., DB); Chris Mick (6-0, 250, sr., OL) and Max Masem (6-0, 230, jr., OL).

Other players Jaax projects to have an impact include Rio Gomez (6-0, 250, jr., OL-DL), Isaac Klug (jr., RB-WR), Camden Carr (jr., WR), Jayden Woods (jr., OL), Clayton Smith (sr., LB), Brody Harper (jr., LB), Caden Livesay (jr., DL), Jayden Nash (jr., QB), Justin Zerger (so., LB-WR), Keon Edwards (so., DB-WR), Colby Gomez (so., QB-LB), Dellen Claassen (so., QB), Ethan Otter (jr., OL), Ryan Ruggiero (jr., H) and Dylan McBee (jr., LB).

“Kenyon Forest is going to have a huge year,” Jaax said. “He rushed for 855 yards as a junior and will be a three-year starter. Kenyon made huge strides in the offense as the season went on and has really come into his own as an athlete, winning state track in the javelin. Quarterback is a three-man competition — Junior Jayden Nash, sophomore Dellen Claassen and sophomore Colby Gomez. We are confident in all three but hope to settle on one by the start of the season. Offensive line is going to be a real team strength. We have four players with starting experience returning. Good size and athleticism that will be able to create offensive opportunities. Jake Schmidt returns as the leading receiver, he will be complemented by a group of young and athletic players.

“Defensive backs will be the strength of the defense. All four starters return as well as two additional players who gained starting experience last year. Jonah Remsberg was second team all-league with six interceptions and a TD. Joe Slechta really came on as a safety as the season went on and will have a big year. Luke Hirsh is a great athlete at corner who will look to contribute in multiple ways. Ben Reyes is a hard working talented player who will look to make our safeties the best in the conference. Junior Ricky Parga will have a big year. He will be a three-year starter on DL, returning leader in tackles and tackles for loss. We expect our defensive line to be big and aggressive this season. Linebackers will be new. Clayton Smith is the only player who gained starting experience last year. Collin Hershberger was six of seven on field goals. He is a great weapon and hard worker. Will make a huge impact this season.”

Of Newton’s opposition this season, Derby won the Class 6A state title. Maize lost in the Class 5A semifinals. Maize South went two rounds in the Class 5A playoffs. Hutchinson also went two rounds in the Class 5A playoffs.

Of Newton’s non-league opponents, Andover Central lost in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs. Goddard went two rounds in the Class 5A playoffs.

Mark Schnabel can be reached at mschnabel@thekansan.com