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RGR | Newton to face Haysville Campus in regular season finale: Storylines, preview, and projection
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Coming off back-to-back wins — including an impressive 35-27 showing against Salina South a week ago to pick up its first Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division 1 victory — the 2-5 Newton High School football team is looking to do something it hasn’t since 2009: Win three consecutive games.
And with winless Haysville Campus coming to town, the odds of that drought coming to an end are in the Railers’ favor. The Colts will roll into Friday night’s game with a record of 0-7 following a 28-17 loss to AVCTL-I foe Hutchinson and looking to avenge their blowout loss to Newton a year ago.
If the KSHSAA state playoffs began today, the Railers would be preparing for a trip to Bishop Carroll — a notable 5A powerhouse. However, a win this week (along with help from the outcome of other games) could shake things up and give Newton a more favorable first-round matchup. That’s the hope, at least. But as the old saying goes, it must simply control what it can control.
“We just have to pay attention to this game,” Railers head coach Chris Jaax told Mark Schnabel of The Kansan. “It’s a game we know we can win.”
Here’s all the information you’ll need for Friday’s contest — including game details, storylines to watch, and a final preview plus CalPreps projection.
Location: Fischer Field Stadium (Newton)
Kickoff: 7:00 p.m.
Weather: 63 degrees. Clear skies. 2% chance of rain.
Spread (via CalPreps): Newton (-7)
2020 result: Newton won, 42-15
1. Owning the series
Since 2008, Newton and Campus have met on the gridiron a total of 11 times, playing each other every season with a two-year break in 2016 and 2017. In those meetings, the Railers have had overwhelming success, compiling an 8-3 record against the Colts using multiple blowout wins — including thumpings of 42-7 in 2008, 48-7 in 2013, 32-12 in 2014, and 42-15 in 2020.
Key stat: Newton’s offense has rarely found trouble with scoring against Campus’ defense, tallying at least 20 points in every victory over the Colts in the past 13 years, save a 16-6 win in 2012. For a unit that has seemed to have found its rhythm at the right time, this historically favorable matchup is welcomed as a chance to really turn it loose ahead of the postseason.
Conversely, the Railers’ defense has found luck in shutting down the Campus offense, holding it to 28 points or less in each of its aforementioned victories. This week’s meeting will likely keep the trend intact, as the Colts’ offense has struggled with consistency and Newton’s defense is surging.
2. Defense set for strong showing
The Railers’ defense held its own a week ago, doing what it did the game prior against Goddard: Preventing big plays over the top, tightening up at the line of scrimmage, and making critical stops in red zone and third-down situations. Now, it’ll welcome back its noted leader in senior defensive back Luke Hirsh, who has been inactive since the team’s loss to Maize South.
Key stat: In its win over Salina South, the Newton defense was able to force two turnovers — including a pick-six from senior defensive back Joe Slechta. Creating changes of possession will be key against Campus’ flexbone attack, which is something the unit has been producing at a high rate recently. It should continue to maintain this as a priority in taking/keeping early leads.
“Campus is very good offensively,” Jaax told The Kansan. “They run the flexbone, so we have to be really sound defensively. … We have to win the turnover battle … we did (that) the last two weeks.”
Fortunately for Jaax’s squad, this isn’t its first go-round with the flexbone. When Hutch came to town, one of the keys to the game was a physical presence from the Newton defensive line at the point of attack — and for all of three quarters, it delivered. A complete game here would do wonders.
3. The playoff picture
This game could have a fairly significant impact on both Newton’s and Campus’ first-round matchup. The Railers are currently 14th in 5A-West, which would send them to 3rd place Bishop Carroll. Campus is 16th in 6A-West, and a trip to 1st place Derby awaits the Colts if this seeding holds.
Newton’s situation is certainly in flux. “The interesting thing about 5A-West is there are about 12 teams with winning records,” Jaax told The Kansan. “There’s not a lot of places for us to move, but based on how the games go, it could vary a lot. … There are like six or seven teams that are 5-2.”
If both No. 12 Liberal and No. 13 Valley Center suffer losses this week and Newton defeats Campus, the Railers could climb to as high as 12th in district. If all other seeds remain the same, this would set up a rematch with Maize South, which beat Newton 68-24 earlier this season. The Railers can’t go any lower than 14th, though, as they beat No. 15 Salina South head-to-head.
The 5-2 teams that Jaax mentioned — and could be considered as other possible candidates for a first-round pairing with Newton — include:
No. 4 Andover (-48) at No. 15 Goddard
No. 6 Maize (-15) vs. No. 10 Hutch
No. 7 Wichita Northwest (+1) vs. No. 2 Hays
No. 8 Salina Central (-28) at No. 15 Salina South
No. 9 Wichita Heights (+17) at No. 1 Kapaun Mt. Carmel
4. The AVCTL-I standings
As for the league crown, there are three possible outcomes between Derby, Maize South, and Maize — which could all capture a share of the title:
Derby def. Maize South = Derby wins outright
Derby is a 22-point favorite via CalPreps.
Maize South def. Derby, Hutch def. Maize = Maize South wins outright
Maize is a 15-point favorite via CalPreps.
Maize South def. Derby, Maize def. Hutch = Three-way tie
As for the rest of the league, Newton is currently 5th — and can’t go any higher. The only way it can drop is with a loss to Campus on Friday night.
Preview and projection
All things considered, there’s quite a bit riding on this game for Newton.
It’ll need a strong defensive performance coupled with a similar offensive output from a week ago to ensure a three-game winning streak ahead of what will likely be a daunting first-round postseason matchup. With that in mind, expect the Railers to take advantage of its strengths against a struggling Campus squad and cover the 7-point spread fairly comfortably.
CalPreps Projection: Newton 28, Campus 21
Brett is a freelance reporter covering the 2021 Newton (KS) High School football team and Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD (TX) 5A high school football. To stay updated, subscribe by completing the field above. Follow Brett on Twitter (@brettaesch) for up-to-the-minute coverage. Thanks for reading.