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RGR | Shorthanded Newton shows fight, outpaced in loss to Maize South: Recap and takeaways
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WICHITA, Kan. — Less than two minutes into the second quarter, Newton’s (0-5) Jonah Remsburg returned a Maize South (5-0) kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown. The score cut the Mavericks’ lead to 27-14. It would be the closest the Railers would get the rest of Friday night at Maize South Stadium.
After surrendering a touchdown on Maize South’s first offensive play of the game, Newton found itself trailing 21-0 at the end of the opening frame.
With 11:55 left in the next period, the Railers found the end zone for the first time as sophomore quarterback Colby Gomez (12-28, 225 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT) connected with junior H-Back Ryan Ruggerio to make it 21-7.
The two sides then traded touchdowns, with the Mavericks adding another. After a Collin Hershberger field goal to bring Newton within 17, Maize South would double its lead to take a commanding 51-17 halftime advantage.
The 5A no. 5 Mavericks — who found the end zone on all eight of their first-half offensive possessions — never looked back in the second half. They’d go on to win the Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division 1 contest 68-24.
“It was a rough one,” Railers head coach Chris Jaax told The Kansan’s Mark Schnabel. “On defense, we didn’t play very well at all. The kids played hard. They made a lot of good plays. We just have to correct some things.”
Here’s the good and bad from a resilient — yet futile — effort from the Railers.
1 — Fought back despite slow start
Seven inactive players, a 21-0 deficit, and the top team in the league on the opposing sideline. Newton’s shorthanded squad had every excuse in the book to lay down and accept its fate by the end of the first quarter.
Key stat: Instead, the Railers got off the mat and showed resilience. After being unable to move the ball with any success all night, Gomez led the Newton offense on a 75-yard drive to put its first points on the board.
That score, Remsburg’s kickoff return touchdown, and Hershberger’s lone field goal would culminate to 17 second-quarter points. By halftime, the Railers had already matched their season-high in scoring. It was the kind of fight Jaax told me earlier this week he wanted to see from his players.
2 — Keon Edwards and Camden Carr step up
With leading senior receiver Jake Schmidt sidelined with an injury, one of the biggest storylines ahead of Friday’s game was finding out who would fill that role. Junior Isaac Klug has typically been Newton’s number two receiver, but he got the start at running back instead.
Key stat: Enter sophomore Keon Edwards and junior Camden Carr. Edwards, who had been quiet for most of 2021, led the Railers in receiving with 76 yards on five receptions. Carr, who isn’t a stranger to the box score, had a solid night of his own, recording four catches for 56 yards.
There’s no telling how much longer Schmidt will be unavailable. With three games left to play, Newton should feel confident after performances like these from Edwards and Carr — both for the immediate and long-term future.
1 — Offensive line on roller-skates
Earlier this week, Jaax mentioned to me that his offensive line’s health was a concern for the Railers’ coaching staff, and that the team had used four different personnel combinations for the unit through the same number of games.
Key stat: Following Maize South’s second touchdown of the night, Newton’s ensuing offensive possession started with an 18-yard sack. Not long afterwards, Gomez would be forced to throw the ball away on third down after receiving pressure up the middle, resulting in a stalled drive and punt. It was the theme for quarters 1, 3, and 4. Wash, rinse, repeat.
The Railers’ offensive gameplan from the first snap was clear: Get Gomez out of the pocket. Designed rollouts and sprint-outs were abundant, as anytime a straight dropback was called, he was forced to use his feet regardless. It’s simply not a recipe for success, especially against teams like the Mavericks.
2 — Rush defense matches its box scores
Going into Friday’s matchup, Newton ranked next-to-last in rushing defense among all of KSHSAA’s 5A teams. Unfortunately for the Railers, they just so happened to be facing one of the best running backs in the state of Kansas — and it went about as expected.
Key stat: Senior Evan Cantu had a field for Maize South, tallying 247 yards on 24 carries with five first-half touchdowns. As a team, the Mavericks compiled 410 rushing yards on 52 attempts. That’s 131 more than the average rush yardage given up by Newton this season.
In this case, the lackluster showing was a culmination of injuries, youth, and a mismatch of an opponent. The lone bright spot was defensive lineman Daniel Martinez, as the 6-foot-5 senior was able to disrupt plays at the line of scrimmage on occasion. Otherwise, the Railers weren’t able to sustain the improvement they showed the week prior against Hutch.
Newton will head southwest to face AVCTL Div. 2’s 5A Goddard in a non-league contest. The Lions are winless, losing all five of its games this season. The final three games on the Railers’ schedule present favorable matchups, as Goddard, Salina South, and Haysville Campus are a combined 1-14.
Newton lost last year’s matchup 37-17.
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.