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RGR | Newton set to host Hutchinson in league opener: Game details, storylines, and projection
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On Friday night, Newton will host 5A’s ninth-ranked Hutchinson in week two of Kansas high school football action to open Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division 1 play.
Newton will be coming off its fourth consecutive season-opening loss, this time at the hands of Valley Center, 21-17. Hutchinson, however, will be looking to start 2-0 after a strong showing in its 27-20 win over Goddard-Eisenhower a week ago.
When these two sides met last season, the Railers felt as though they had let one slip through the fingers in a 28-10 loss. Newton jumped out to a 10-0 lead over the Salthawks on homecoming before the visitors clawed their way back — using long drives and defensive touchdowns — to score 28 unanswered.
Things are different already this time around, though. The Railers have a new leader at the helm in Greg Slade while Hutchinson will show off its new offensive scheme for the fans at Fischer Field Stadium. It’s a matchup that’s sure to answer plenty of questions as one of the toughest leagues in the state gets into full swing.
Here’s everything you need to know — including game details, storylines, and the Esch Index projection.
Location: Fischer Field Stadium (Newton)
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Weather: 88 degrees. Clear skies. 0% chance of rain.
Spread (via the Esch Index): Hutchinson (-5)
2021 result: Hutchinson won, 28-10
Newton secondary to be tested
It’s no secret that Newton’s young secondary struggled in its debut against Valley Center to open the 2022 season. While the defense only yielded 21 points, they should consider themselves fortunate as the Hornets had plenty of opportunities to strike deep and just couldn’t capitalize on every one of them. And with Hutchinson rolling into town sporting a new-look offense, attacking the boundaries downfield will likely be a priority for its coaching staff.
Hutchinson looking to capitalize on turnovers
On the flip side, one of Newton’s struggles that carried over from 2021 to week one of this season was untimely turnovers. If the Railer offense can keep itself from giving Hutchinson extra chances and time of possession, it’ll (at least) limit the damage the Salthawk offense can do. This goes hand-in-hand with Newton’s need for finishing drives with points and making plays at critical points in the game — which the Railers will likely find themselves in quite often this season.
Newton must take the points
Last week, Newton kicker Collin Hershberger never took the field to attempt a field goal in the team’s four-point loss. As odd as it may sound, that’s a problem for the Railers — a fairly large one, at that. Far too many drives ended with punts in the season opener, and it’ll increasingly become vital that the Railers give themselves at the very minimum a chance at points on more drives than not.
The Esch Index projects a low-scoring affair that sees Hutchinson barely scraping past Newton. While this is certainly a possibility, the feel of this matchup seems to be trending toward a larger margin of victory for the Salthawks given that they’ll ride the momentum gained from a big victory in week one. However, the Railers undoubtedly have what it takes to make this game a dogfight from the opening kickoff — the only question is how they’ll put it all together.
Esch Index projection: Hutchinson 15, Newton 10