Coach: Chris Jaax, second season, 1-8
League: AV-CTL II
Last season: 1-8
Returning starters: 12
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Schedule: Sept. 1, Maize; Sept. 8, at Hutch; Sept. 15, at Eisenhower; Sept. 22, Valley Center; Sept. 29, Salina Central; Oct. 6, at Andover; Oct. 13, Ark City; Oct. 20, at Goddard.
Projected record: 1-8
Five top returning players
Three keys to the season
1. The Railers have high hopes heading into the 2017 season and it starts with leadership. Jaax was pleased with the work ethic this summer and thinks it will turn into positive leadership from some key players.
2. Newton’s offense will turn to junior Colton Davis to lead the attack. Davis was the backup quarterback a year ago and will take over this season. The Railers lost a majority of their offense from last season, but they will return a lot of experience on the offensive line. Dietz will be one of the leaders on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
3. The Railers will have to be more reliable on defense. Newton gave up 41 points per game last year and went winless at home. Jaax thinks that the leadership on the defensive side will be a big advantage.
Five questions with coach Chris Jaax
1. What has the focus been now that you’ve had your first complete offseason with your kids?
“Developing culture. So in the first year we worked on developing our core values. Attitude, committment, effort —we call it ACE. We’re still trying to instill and develop that championship culture. We want to go out and compete and build the type of kids that are going to go out there and compete. We want parents to be proud to have their son play football at Newton High School.”
2. What’s the offense looking like?
“We lost a lot of good kids, but we also have some talented kids to fill those spots now. They’re inexperienced, so we’re trying to create that environment for them to get them comfortable running the offense. The good thing about that is we’ve got a lot of returners back on defense, so those offensive guys are going to get some good guys from the defense challenging them every day in practice. I feel like that’s going to make them more game-ready. They’re getting those quality looks in practice and also learning at the same time.”
3. How about the defense?
“Like I said, we’ve got a lot of returning starters on our defense. They played well throughout our camp and we had some good leadership from those guys as well. We have high expectations that our defense is going to be much improved and I’m looking forward to seeing those kids give out a lot of effort and committment and be the foundation for us as a team.”
4. How tough is it to try to rebuild in a league like the AV-CTL?
“I think it’s exciting for us. We play against some great programs with coaches who have been at their schools for awhile now. Overall, I feel like our division is improving and I think that makes everybody else better. I think you saw that last year when Goddard went on to the state championship game. I think we’re all getting better and improving by playing against each other. I think it’s exciting to go up against that type of competition. If you’re going into games knowing that you’re going to have to play well, then that helps with the preparation. The kids know they have to get better in practice and it makes you a better team.”
5. What has to happen this season for Newton to reach its potential?
“I think we’ve got the type of athletes we need to be successful. The biggest thing for us is going to be playing together as a team. We’ve really hit on the kids that they’ve got to have a lot of energy and effort. If we do those things, then the results are going to come around. It’s our job as coaches to put kids in the situation to be successful. It’s not like we’ve got to figure out how to get better athletically. We’re there. It’s just a matter of us performing in a way that gives us a chance to win. In the year’s past we have struggled with that and we’re trying to change that.”