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RGR | Newton unable to escape early deficit in 38-17 first-round playoff loss to Bishop Carroll: Recap and season analysis
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WICHITA — Fast starts are one of the most coveted things a team can possess in any given sporting event. Unfortunately for 12th-seeded Newton (3-6), it found itself on the wrong end of one in its 38-17 first-round playoff loss to fifth-seeded Bishop Carroll (7-2) on Friday night at Bishop Carroll Family Stadium in Wichita.
“[Bishop Carroll] came out and played hard and went quick on offense,” Newton head coach Greg Slade said. “It just took us a while to get things started offensively. And by that time it was too late. We put some things together, but, you know, that’s a tough way to finish the season.”
The Golden Eagles opened the 5A West contest with a 16-play drive that lasted just over five minutes to snatch an early 7-0 lead. The Railers would go on to not pick up a single first down through the entire first quarter en route to a 14-0 Bishop Carroll advantage to start the second quarter.
By halftime, the Golden Eagles had extended their lead to 31-3 courtesy of a ground game spearheaded by running back Derek Breese with assistance from quarterback Jackson King — who also tallied a first-half passing touchdown.
Neither team scored in the third quarter as Newton finally found the end zone for the first time with 5:46 left in the fourth quarter via a one-yard plunge by running back CJ Claussen to respond to Bishop Carroll’s score. Quarterback Colby Gomez capped the night with a 43-yard scamper that brought the Railers within three scores, 38-17.
With the win, the Golden Eagles advance to face fourth-seeded Hutchinson. With the loss, Newton finishes the 2022 campaign with a 3-6 mark. The first season under Slade ends a game better than last season.
“I thought we really improved throughout the year and made some strides,” Slade said. ”I told the senior class multiple times that I’m sad that I'm only gonna get to be with them for a year. But we’ve got some good juniors and underclassmen … it’s gonna be nice to be with these guys for a couple of years.”
“I would say the biggest improvement was how we approach the game and our mentality as far as coming to work [every day],” he added. “I mean, we had an opportunity when we were 0-4 to say, ‘Hey, we're done.’ But they learned how to achieve when things are rough. And that teaches you more than just winning football games.”
Full offensive stats:
To see full offensive stats from this game, click/tap the button below.
It was truly a game of inches for Newton in 2022.
On paper, the 2022 Newton football season will likely forever be remembered for Weeks 1 and 2. The Railers opened the slate against Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division 2’s Valley Center, which finished the regular season 6-2. Newton led for most of the contest but would eventually lose by four. The next week, the Railers hosted Hutchinson to begin AVCTL-I action and again held the advantage until it mattered most, losing by five to a Salthawks team that’s still playing. Newton was a mere 11 points away from being 5-3 and hosting a first-round playoff game.
Gomez, running back James Hulse, and the Newton offense did something this season I’ve never witnessed another team at any level do, and that’s completely overhaul an existing scheme and install and execute a new one in a matter of three games. And not only did it work and spark a three-game win streak, it served as a testament to both the coaches (recognizing personnel and talent) and players (learning quickly and staying disciplined within assignments).
The Newton defense, though the subject of critical analysis quite often throughout this season, improved considerably in the latter portion of the season even against some of the state’s best offenses in Derby and Bishop Carroll. Now, the coaching staff faces the challenging task of replacing a senior-heavy front seven — one that graduates DL Ricky Parga, LB Brody Harper, and others. How returning contributors such as DL/LB Landon Pfannenstiel fill their roles will be crucial to team success in 2023.
The bottom line:
Once again, Newton faced one of the toughest schedules in Central Kansas, taking on the defending 5A and 6A state runner-ups in Maize and Derby, along with AVCTL-II runner-ups Valley Center and two-loss Hutchinson. Despite this, the Railers visibly possessed another gear they didn’t a year ago, which should largely be credited to Slade as Newton has become a program that embodies its head coach — and that’ll always be a scary prospect for opponents. There’s plenty to build on for 2023, and Slade has proven his ability to construct a winner.
Newton is set to begin preparing for the next season later this year. It’ll also be Slade’s first winter and full spring in the building. “We'll go to work here soon,” Slade said. “We'll give them a little time off — maybe until Thanksgiving — and then we'll get after it.”
The Railers will open the campaign on Sep. 1, 2023 at Valley Center.