Prep Football: Newnan looks to stay on course in playoff huntBy DOUG GORMAN
It may not have been pretty, but the Newnan Cougars’ 21-13 victory over Douglas County Friday was a needed boost of confidence.
One week after losing to Region 3-AAAAAA front-runner Langston Hughes, Newnan went into the game searching for some kind of lift. They got it thanks to the performances by Quinton Dix who scored two touchdowns and Traon Moss who caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from Bailey Bryant.
“We found a way to win. It wasn't pretty. That’s what I told our kids, and it wasn’t easy” Newnan head coach Mike McDonald said after the game. “But it was a win.”
Newnan takes its wave of momentum into its next-to-last game of the season against a winless Westlake team.
The Lions dropped a 21-14 decision to Tri-Cities last week and fell to 0-8 overall and 0-3 in region action.
The Lions are coached by former Atlanta Falcons’ running back Stanley Pritchett who comes to the school with hopes of creating a winning attitude.
“We are just trying to change the culture,” Pritchett said prior to the season.
Despite producing future NFL players such as Cam Newton, Adam “Pac Man” Jones and Keyaron Fox, both who went on to the NFL earlier this decade, the school has fallen on hard times with 4-6 and 3-7 records the past two seasons.
At 6-2 overall and 2-1 in the region, Newnan can clinch a state-playoff berth with a win Friday.
The Cougars have won four of their last five games. The loss to Langston Hughes all but takes Newnan out of the region title hopes, but they can still secure second place by beating the Lions Friday and East Coweta in Sharpsburg next week.
The message McDonald is trying to get across to his kids is taking it one game at a time.
McDonald knows his team has penciled in the date with rival East Coweta for nearly 365 days, especially since losing to their biggest rivals last year, but won’t allow them to look ahead.
“We have been talking about it all week,” he said. “We can’t look ahead. We just have to take it one game at a time."
McDonald knows records can be misleading and Westlake can still be dangerous.
“They have some really good playmakers,” he said. “You just have to watch them.”
The Lions brought back a collection of skill position players including quarterback Renard Battle. He likes to throw the ball to T.J. Reece and Chris Daniel, a pair of senior wide receivers who are a threat to pick up yardage they catch the football.
Junior Tonaris Portress will try and make it a long day for the Lions as he comes into the game as the Cougars’ most dangerous weapon. In last Friday’s victory, Portress had 11 tackles, including 7 solos. He also tipped a pass that led to a win-sealing interception against Douglas County. He also was in on one sack.
Cameron Walker comes into the game as the Cougars’ leader with three sacks.
Offensively, the Cougars’ biggest challenge could be to run the ball away from Lions’ linebacker Tyrone Pope and cornerback Terrence Montgomery. However, Newnan has shown the ability to move the football through the air and on the ground this season.
Dix has rushed for over 500 yards and scored six touchdowns. Bryant, who is just a sophomore, but has started in all eight games, as passed for 12 touchdowns and over 1,000 yards.
Moss has hauled in five touchdowns, while Tray Matthews has six catches for touchdowns.
Friday night’s kickoff at Westlake will be the fifth meeting between the two schools with Newnan leading 4-0.
Newnan won last year’s meeting 33-7 when both schools were members of Region 2-AAAAA.