Newton’s Cardinals prepare to take on South Tama’s Trojans in Class 3A, District 4 play Friday on the Trojans’ field.
“We’ve prepared for South Tama, but the focus this week is about us. We want to bounce back from a loss in the right way, and the players seem to be doing that,” said Ed Ergenbright, Cardinal head coach.
“The key for us, right now, is to be better at being us.”
On Friday, the two teams square off in what could be a pivotal game in district play for the Cardinals and Trojans. Each are coming off a loss from last Friday’s district action — Newton lost 41-20 to Boone and South Tama dropped a 34-0 decision to Dallas Center-Grimes.
It’s a 7:30 p.m. kickoff in Tama. The freshman game is at 4:45 p.m.
Ergenbright said the Cardinals are working to eliminate mistakes on both sides of the football. He said after showing the Boone game film to the players, they realize there were things “we did to hurt ourselves as much as Boone’s play. Boone is a very good team, but we missed defensive assignments allowing big plays.”
On the offensive side, Ergenbright said the Cardinal running game is going the right way by getting Newton’s quick backs to the edge to run on the permitter.
Ergenbright pointed out a couple of penalties and “blown blocks,” which hampered the Cardinals against Boone.
A penalty wiped out a long touchdown run in the third quarter.
“Our kids believe in what we’re doing offensively. We just have to execute better. We’re adding wrinkles to the offense every week. If we begin to execute consistently, we’ll be a hard team to beat,” Ergenbright said.
The Cardinals are also trying to get players healthy. Ergenbright said senior starting center Derek Wrage has been held out of practices this week to help his ankle injury. Junior receiver Nick Easley is also hampered by a bad ankle injury he suffered late this summer.
“People haven’t seen a healthy Nick Easley yet. With Derek’s injury, we’ve had to do some shuffling along the offensive line. The guys are responded and getting better in those roles,” Ergenbright said.
South Tama runs a basic pro-style offense. It was a 28-27 win over the Trojans, that turned the Cardinals’ 2012 season around, Ergenbright said.
“South Tama is always tough and physical. They play solid defense,” he said.
The Trojans are led on offense by junior running back Bo Blocker, who has 184 yards on 46 carries in three games, plus four touchdowns. Dalton Doyle is the junior quarterback for South Tama, going 29-of-53 passing for 386 yards. Jerry Lowe is a sophomore running back with 112 yards rushing.
Blocker is also one of the leading receivers on the team, along with senior Tyler Martins. Martins leads the Trojan defense with 21 solo tackles and eight assisted tackles. The Trojans do have several big linemen in 6-4, 302-pound Ian Slagle and 5-10, 333-pound Curtis McFate.