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RGR | Newton to square off with Goddard in matchup of the winless: Storylines, preview, and projection
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With three games left to play in the regular season, Newton is still searching for its first trip to the win column following a 68-24 thumping from Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division 1 leader Maize South.
It wasn’t a secret that the Railers’ schedule was one of the toughest in Kansas, as their first five opponents have a combined record of 20-4 — including the no. 1 ranked 4A and 6A teams. However, the remainder of Newton’s 2021 slate has a case for one of the easiest in the state.
The three teams that comprise this portion of the schedule — Goddard, Salina South, and Haysville Campus — are 1-14 altogether. The Railers will begin this final stretch on Friday night when they travel southwest to face Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division 2 foe Goddard, which is also winless, in a non-league bout.
The Lions are coming off a 24-0 shutout loss to crosstown rival Eisenhower. Here’s all the information you’ll need for this week’s matchup — including game details, storylines to watch, and a final preview plus CalPreps projection.
Location: Lions Field (Goddard)
Kickoff: 7:00 p.m.
Weather: 67 degrees. Partly cloudy skies. 0% chance of rain.
Spread (via CalPreps): Newton (-8)
2020 result: Goddard won, 37-17
1 — Getting out of Goddard’s shadow
The history between Newton and the Lions is only recent, as the two programs have faced each other on three occasions in the past five seasons: 2016, 2017, and 2020. Goddard dominated each meeting, winning by an average margin of 32 points.
Key stat: Newton — even in its best offensive years — has struggled to put up points against the Lions. The most it could muster in the aforementioned three contests was 20 points in 2016. In 2017 and 2020, the Railers finished with 14 and 17, respectively. Conversely, Goddard hung up 62, 48, and 37.
These facts alone tell the story for Newton: It’ll need a strong all-around performance to avoid repeating history, as the Lions seem to have its number. Fortunately for the Railers, the two teams have never been more alike, and it’s their best chance thus far to capture a victory (hence why they’re eight-point favorites).
2 — Jake Schmidt returns
Speaking of points, Newton and its sophomore quarterback, Colby Gomez, will welcome the return of his go-to offensive target: Wide receiver Jake Schmidt. The senior missed the team’s loss to Maize South last week after suffering a lower-body injury in the game prior against Hutch.
Key stat: So far in 2021, Schmidt has tallied 14 catches for 1`78 yards and a touchdown. The statline might not be eye-popping, but it’s important to note the context in which a lot of his receptions were made.
With subpar offensive line play plaguing the Railers, Gomez has been forced to extend plays with his legs — which is when he typically finds Schmidt downfield to keep drives alive. That element of a receiver’s impact shouldn’t be undervalued.
Getting Schmidt back in rhythm should be a priority for Newton on Friday. His return, the emergence of sophomore Keon Edwards (5 rec, 76 yds last week), and the consistency of juniors Camden Carr and Isaac Klug as steady contributors should make for a revitalized Railers offense.
3 — Manufacture a big defensive night
Since the preseason, Newton’s secondary has been widely accepted as its best unit from top-to-bottom. Goddard presents a favorable matchup, and one that could lead to an explosive statistical outing for the group — even with senior and noted leader Luke Hirsh not expected to play.
Key stat: The Lions have been sufficient in keeping its offensive play-calling balanced, with 113 pass attempts from quarterback Lake Hamilton and 88 carries by running back Dylan Reese. However, they’ve been forced to go to the pass in the second half quite often this season after falling behind early. Sound familiar?
This is the Railers’ most important key to victory: Make Goddard one-dimensional. Don’t go back-and-forth early and allow the Lions to set the tempo and establish the run game. Create turnovers, give the offense a short field, and make plays on the back-end when Goddard is forced to go pass-heavy. The formula is simple. Newton just has to put it all together.
Preview and projection
Since Oct. 18, 2019, the Railers have won just two football games. Now, they have a chance to start a three-game winning streak before the opening round of the KSHSAA 5A state playoffs.
To make it happen, they’ll need to break more than a few bad habits — including slow starts, costly turnovers, and the inability to get off the field defensively. And what better opportunity is there to do this than against another 0-5 squad?
The Lions might’ve had Newton’s number thus far, but expect the Railers to *finally* get all the unfortunate monkeys off their back. They’re a one-possession favorite, and they’ll prove CalPreps right once again.
CalPreps Projection: Newton 28, Goddard 20
Can’t make it to Goddard? Don’t worry. I’ll be on-site for this game and providing live updates via Twitter — and I won’t have to leave early this time.
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.