Railer gridders look to polish game against Central

Mark Schnabel
The Kansan
Newton sophomore Colby Gomez throws a pass during the pre-season jamboree Saturday at McPherson. Newton opens the season at 7 p.m. Friday at Andover Central.

The key to success for the Newton High School football team this season will be to clean up and refine its play, according to coach Chris Jaax.

The first chance to polish its play will come at 7 p.m. Saturday against Andover Central at Andover Central Stadium.

It will be the first trip to the venue, which opened last season.

“It’s the first game, so you try to eliminate mistakes,” Jaax said. “We will need to adjust to things as it goes. Last year, against them, we threw two pick sixes. We gave up two huge penalties on special teams. We have to try and make sure the kids are ready to go.”

Andover Central went 7-2 last season, winning the Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division II title at 5-1. After a 49-7 win over Great Bend in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs, Central fell to league-rival Arkansas City 33-28. Central had earlier beat Ark City 37-6.

The Jaguars downed Newton 41-34 to open the season.

The leading returnee for Central is senior Ashton Barkdull, who rushed for 803 yards on 109 carries with six touchdowns. Barkdull also caught 11 passes for 75 yards and a score.

Central graduated its top three receivers, quarterback and second-leading rusher.

Barkdull also led the defense in total tackles at 60. Noah Garcia added 43 total tackles. Bronx Wood added 43.

“Their offensive and defensive lines are both pretty experienced,” Jaax said. “That’s a major part of what they do on both sides of the ball. They have a lot of seniors. They have a pretty good senior class. They have a lot of starters back. There’s quite a few players that will be impact players for them.”

Mark Schnabel can be reached at mschnabel@thekansan.com