Playing a district opener on Friday the 13th — will it be a good omen or a bad one for Newton Senior High’s Cardinals? The answer will be known at 9:30 Friday night at H.A. Lynn Stadium.
The Cardinals host Boone High’s Toreadors for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff. It is the Class 3A, District 4 opener for both teams. Newton is 1-1 overall and Boone is 2-0.
It is also Newton’s homecoming game.
“Yes, there are distractions with homecoming week. We’ve talked to our players that we want them to enjoy all the homecoming activities, but when they come to practice their focus is on football,” said Ed Ergenbright, Newton head coach. “We’ve had a good week of practice, so this group seems to be handling the distractions well.”
The focus for the Cardinals in their third game of the season is to be better on offense and defense. They have a challenge in a Boone team that is big and physical, according to Ergenbright.
The Toreadors’ offense runs through senior quarterback Alex Davis. It’s not Boone’s passing game that powers it — it’s the running game. Davis leads Boone in rushing with 332 yards on 47 carries and five touchdowns.
Boone’s bruising tailback ,senior Kane Springis, has piled up 291 yards on 34 carries, scoring two touchdowns. Davis is 5-of-11 passing for 72 yards.
“The Davis kid is a very good athlete, and Springis is big and physical as a runner,” Ergenbright said. “They don’t try to pass the ball much. They use a lot of motion and give you a variety of looks offensively, like we do.”
Ergenbright said the Cardinals have to stay balanced up front on defense, maintain a low pad level and take care of the gap assignments.
Offensively, the Cardinals are after balance in their run game — on the edge and up the middle. Ergenbright said Boone has a strong defense with good athletes, “so I don’t expect them to make mistakes for us to get big passing plays. We have to be patient.”
“The first to last district game counts, but to win the first district game is a big step for any team,” Ergenbright said. “We set our goals at the beginning of the season to reach the playoffs. To have the district opener as your homecoming game is big.”