Not since 2007 has a Newton High School football team won seven games in Class 4A competition. In 2014, the Cardinals went 7-4 playing in Class 3A but the past two seasons Newton has been back in Class 4A football district play.
The 2017 edition of Newton High Cardinal football posted a 7-2 regular season mark, going 3-2 in Class 4A District 4 action. The Cardinals finished third in District 4. They didn’t make the Class 4A playoffs, but the Cardinals were the best rushing offense in District 4.
Fifteen Newton High players were recognized for their district play by District 4 coaches when the 2017 Class 4A All-District 4 football teams were selected. Most have been part of back-to-back winning seasons by the Cardinals in 4A play — 6-3 in 2016 and 7-2 in 2017.
Receiving All-District 4 first-team honors were senior quarterback Garrett Sturtz, senior split end running Trevor Ergenbright, senior running back Jaron Roush, senior free safety Zach Combs and senior defensive back Grayson Graham.
Newton had five players earning All-District 4 second-team honors. They are senior offensive lineman Jace Lukefahr, senior center Benny Cheng, senior running back Josh Miravalles, junior running back Josh Miller and junior tight end Jacob Murphy.
Defensive linemen Landon Hansen, a senior, and Jaise Gulling, a junior, were among the five Cardinals receiving District 4 honorable mention honors. Senior linebackers Blayden Rhone and Grant Garvis and junior offensive lineman Ike Bebout.
Sturtz and Ergenbright were second-team District 4 selections in 2016. Graham, Roush, Rhone, Gulling and Combs earned district honorable mention honors a year ago.
Newton finished third in District 4 behind West Des Moines Valley and Southeast Polk, which were the only teams to beat the Cardinals this season. The Cardinals, who were ranked No. 10 in Class 4A for one week, notched district wins over Fort Dodge, Marshalltown and Indianola.
Newton’s potent rushing attack was led by Sturtz, Roush, Miller and Miravalles. Running behind the blocking of the Cardinal offensive line, Newton led District 4 in total rushing with 1,820 yards on 262 carry, averaging 6.9 yards a carry, and 24 touchdowns.
The Cardinals were second in total offense in district games with 2,233 yards and second in touchdowns with 28. They were third in scoring — 207 points — in District 4 games.
Until the final week of regulation, Newton was the Class 4A leader in rushing yards. Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson (4-5) rushed for 672 yards in its final game — a 56-55 loss to Des Moines Hoover, which passed for more than 400 yards in the game. CB Thomas Jefferson finished with 3,523 yards on 489 carries.
Newton finished second in 4A rushing offense with 3,435 yards on 472 carries, averaging 7.3 yards per rush. The Cardinals’ 48 rushing touchdowns did lead Class 4A.
The Cardinals’ total offensive production for the season was 4,037 yards, which included 602 yards passing. Newton had 56 touchdowns and scored 412 points.
Sturtz paced the Newton offense as the dual-threat quarterback rushed for a team-high 1,062 yards on 149 carries and 14 touchdowns. In district games, he was the District 4 leader with 745 yards on 197 carries with nine TDs.
He was fifth in passing, 31-of-52 for 413 yards and four TDs and four interceptions. Overall, Sturtz was 42-of-77 of 599 yards with eight TD passes and four interceptions.
Roush, who averaged more than 10 yards a carry for the season, had 855 yards on 85 carries with 12 touchdowns. He was fourth in rushing in the district with 581 yards on 54 carries and eight TDs. He caught 11 passes for 148 yards and had three TD receptions for the season.
Roush returned kickoffs nine times for 235 yards and was one of four District 4 players to return a kickoff for a touchdown in district games. He returned seven punts for 46 yards. He scored 98 points.
Ergenbright was Newton’s top receiver with 16 catches for 275 yards, averaging 17 yards a catch. Against District 4 opponents, Ergenbright had 10 catches for 150 yards and one touchdown. He had three touchdown receptions for the season. He returned kickoffs nine times for 142 yards.
Defensively, Combs led the district with 31 solo tackles and in total tackles with 37.5 tackles. Overall, Combs had 50 solo tackles and 58.5 tackles for the season. He had six tackles for loss, one quarterback sack and one interceptions during the season.
Combs also was Newton’s placekicker, going 25-of-25 for PATs in District 4 games. He was 38-of-41, 92 percent, for the season.
Graham recorded 19 solo tackles and one assisted tackle in district games and had one interception. Overall, Graham had 28 solo stops and two assisted tackles for the season. He also tied two Newton records for returning two interceptions for touchdowns in a season and in a career. Graham had five interceptions for the season.
Cheng and Lukefahr are second-team selections as offensive linemen and Bebout as an honorable mention selection along the offensive line. The three helped the Cardinals have a team-record setting season.
Second-team selections as running backs Miravalles and Miller were eighth and ninth individual in rushing yardage in District 4 contests. Miravalles had 246 yards on 55 carries with six TDs in district play and Miller had 232 yards on 41 carries with one TD. Miller also had two catches and one TD reception.
Overall, Miller rushed for 566 yards on 64 carries with five touchdowns and scored 38 points. Miravalles racked up 531 yards on 100 carries with 12 TDs and scored 74 points.
Murphy, who spent a lot of his time blocking for the Cardinal rushing attack, earned second-team honors in district play. He had seven catches in district games, but averaged 14.7 yards per catch. He had 103 yards. For the season, Murphy had eight catches for 126 yards.
Claiming honorable mention defensive honors were Hansen, Gulling, Rhone and Garvis. Garvis and Rhone led the Cardinal linebackers with Garvis recording 19 solo tackles, seven assisted tackles and six tackles for loss in district games. Rhone had 15 solo stops, 4.5 assisted tackles and a quarterback sack.
Garvis finished with 34 solo tackles and 10.5 assisted tackles. He had seven tackles for loss. Rhone had five tackles for losses among his 27 solo stop and seven assisted tackles. He had three solo quarterback sacks and two fumble recoveries.
Gulling began the season as a linebacker then moved back into a defensive end spot, which he played as a sophomore. Hansen was the anchor on the Cardinal defensive line as the nose guard in the middle.
Gulling had 10 solo tackles and 4.5 assisted tackles in district play and finished with 18 solo stops and nine assisted tackles. He had three tackles for losses and a quarterback sack.
Hansen made seven solo tackles in district games. He had 13 solo tackles and 1.5 tackles overall and four tackles for losses. Hansen blocked two kicks during the season.
Newton’s 412 points were the a new season record for the Cardinal program for a 9-game season, eclipsing the 304 points scored in 1983. Newton averaged 45.8 points a game in 2017, which was a new team mark — 40.76 points in 1988 was the old record.
Newton’s offense averaged 381.7 yards rushing per game. That was a new team record. The old one was 345.8 yards in 1998.
When Newton beat Fort Dodge 71-70 at Newton’s H.A. Lynn Stadium, four NHS team records were set — most points scored in a game by both teams, 141; most total yards gained by both teams, 1,322 yards; most yards gained by a Newton team in a game, 666; tied most extra points kicked in a game, nine by Combs.
A full list of the All Class 4A District 4 football teams was not available.
Contact Jocelyn Sheets at
641-792-3121 ext. 6535