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RGR | Newton set for regular-season finale in Derby
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On Friday night, the Newton (3-4) football team will take on 6A’s fourth-ranked Derby (5-2) on the road for the final edition of Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division 1 and regular season play.
Location: Panther Stadium (Derby)
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Weather: 79 degrees. Mostly cloudy. 0% chance of rain.
Spread (via the Esch Index): Derby (-33)
What’s at stake?
Derby is looking to avoid losing three games in a season for the first time since 2011. Newton, meanwhile, is looking to win its fourth straight game. For the Railers, all eyes are on playoff seeding — where they’re currently 10th in 5A West and would be traveling to face 5A’s sixth-ranked Hutchinson in the opening round with the standings in their current state. A win would give Newton its first four-win season (and highest district ranking) since 2013.
As for any opponent against Derby, the top priority by a country mile for Newton will be slowing down running back Dylan Edwards. The Notre Dame-bound senior tallied three touchdowns against the Railers last season and put the Panthers in cruise control early on. The Newton front seven — namely Ricky Parga and Brody Harper — will be tasked with one of the toughest assignments in Kansas: bend but don’t break versus the Derby ground attack.
Players to watch
Newton: OL Jayden Woods. In an effort to assist Parga and Harper in their seemingly impossible quest, the best thing the Newton offense can do is keep the Derby offense off the field for as long as possible. That means the Railer offensive line, led by the senior Woods, must win more than it loses in the trenches and open lanes for running back James Hulse, quarterback Colby Gomez, and other ball carriers.
Derby: DL Samuel Same. The 6-foot-5, 210-pound senior wreaked havoc on the Newton offense last season and will try to do so again against a more run-focused Railer attack. The freakishly athletic Same’s discipline will be put to the test, but will potentially force Newton head coach Greg Slade to consider running to whichever side No. 45 doesn’t line up on.
Facts and figures
Newton last beat Derby in 1989. … Derby is averaging just under 49 points per game this season, while Newton is averaging just over 24 points per game. … Newton is 3-0 in its previous three games, while Derby is 2-1. … Derby’s average margin of victory is +23.43, while Newton’s is +0.29. … Newton is yet to allow 50 or more points a single game, while Derby has done so once (52, Maize).
Esch Index projection: Derby 46, Newton 13