First-year Newton coach Chris Jaax can only say so much. After a summer of spreading a positive message to a team that finished 1-8, the responsibility is with the players to turn the new vibe into more success.
It seems as if Newton has the parts to deliver improvement. Offensive lineman Aidan Mills has multiple major-college offers, as does Kade Remsberg, whom Jaax calls the fastest player in the state.
“We have struggled in the past and I think these kids know that we’re capable of a lot better,” said Jaax, a former Bishop Carroll assistant. “In their hearts I think there’s a desire to prove everybody wrong about what they’ve done in the past. That’s not really who they are as a team.”
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Remsberg doesn’t have a set position, possibly because that would limit him. He can play running back or wide receiver, and the plan is to find various ways to get him the ball. Remsberg, a senior, has offers from Kansas, Yale, Air Force and Army.
He has shaken off an injury to be one of the most visible players during Newton’s summer workouts.
“He was there for every single camp,” Remsberg said. “He has a lot of talent and a lot of ability. He’s going to go on to college and be a successful kid. He wants to see his school and his team be successful. He’s deeply invested in helping his teammates out.
“We’ll move him around in different situations and down-and-distances and try to utilize his athletic ability. We’re going to try to create some space for him, and I think he’s a pretty elusive kid. We’re going to try to create a lot of opportunities to showcase his athleticism.”
Remsberg can display his speed within an offense that caters to his abilities because of other similar parts. Quarterback Landon Moore, a 6-foot, 190-pound senior, can also gain a matchup advantage with speed.
First, though, Moore will have to win the job against fellow competitor Warren Dietz.
Chemistry with Remsberg and other elements of the offense could help either quarterback guide an offense improved from the unit that scored at least 18 points in five of the final six games in 2015.
After scoring 60 points in the first five games, Newton scored 104 in the final four, reaching 30 twice.
“(Moore is) a state qualifier in the 100-meter dash, so he’ll be able to team that up in the backfield, two really fast guys, and be able to run some read-option stuff,” Jaax said. “He creates some matchup problems for teams that are going to want to focus on our running back.
“He’s a running threat as a quarterback, but he’s also able to make plays throwing the ball.”
Remsberg’s speed and production from either quarterback may be partly reliant upon the ability of Mills to create the most space for them. He has bought into the teamwork aspect of an offensive line’s success and work to improve his strength and athleticism.
Mills also leads the Railers’ defensive line.
“He’s done a good job helping the younger guys out, teaching them different techniques,” Jaax said. “He’s kind of an emotional anchor for those kids, something that they know they can count on. He’s a tough kid and he’s going to fight and he’s going to be someone they can count on.”