Pregame Outlook — Newton battles Ballard for playoff berth
NEWTON — Newton’s Cardinals know what’s at stake Friday night. They win and they are in the Class 3A football playoffs. They lose and the 2013 season is done.
Newton hosts Ballard’s Bombers in Class 3A, District 4 play Friday at H.A. Lynn Stadium. Both teams are 4-4 overall and 2-3 in district play.
It is Senior Night for the Cardinals. It is the regular-season finale for both teams. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.
“Our kids know what’s at stake. We’re playing our best football of the season right now and that is what you want to be doing,” said Ed Ergenbright, Newton head coach. “Our kids are excepting the challenge of stopping a good Ballard team and getting the win to play on.”
Ergenbright said the Bombers don’t do anything fancy.
“They line it up and run the ball right at you. They score on the ground and try to shut teams down with their physical defensive play. Every coach I’ve talked to pointed to their very good defense,” he said.
Offensively, senior running back Jacob Nethers leads the Bombers. Nethers has rushed for 1,166 yards on 227 carries and scored 10 touchdowns. Isaiah Johnson, a junior, had 418 yards on 70 carries and five touchdowns.
Ballard’s quarterback, senior Coy Baker, has passed for 609 yards, going 34-of-100 passing. Baker has seven touchdown passes and four interceptions. Ergenbright said the Bombers have one receiver, who is dangerous. That would be senior Mason Edwards, who averages 29 yards a catch. Edwards had eight catches for 235 yards.
“We have to bring that same intensity we’ve had the past two games and sustain it. We’re as healthy as we’ve been. Our kids with injuries have found a way to play through the injuries,” Ergenbright said.
Ergenbright said Ballard will be a big test to the Cardinal defense led by seniors Will Brock, Nick Glotfelty, Daquan Allen, Colton Hansen, Levi Michener, Ray Schroeder, Ryan Thompson, Troy Exley, Brandon Fisher and Dillon Constant.
Offensively, the Cardinals are a run-first team, but have found a pretty good balance led by junior quarterback Tyler Wood. Newton has generated 1,695 yards on the ground as a team and 956 yards through the air.
Anchoring the offensive line play for the Cardinals are seniors Jake Huizenga, Derek Wrage, Brock and Thompson. Constant and Jake Smith are seniors who play tight end and defensive end for the Cardinals.
Other seniors on the NHS squad are Isaiah Dickey, Earl Kimmel, Joey Wright, Alec Morgan, Mac Icenbice and Devon Wolf. Some play on the special teams units for the Cardinals.