Franklin’s Strong Defense Stands In Newton’s Way Of Regional Championship Berth
Class 3A Division II
Region III Semifinals
Newton Eagles (9-3)
Franklin Lions (10-1)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Wildcat Stadium, Palestine
- Newton: W.T. Johnston
- Franklin: Mike Hedrick
- Newton: defeated Dublin, 56-13
- Franklin: defeated Maypearl, 51-13
- Winner plays Crockett-Rogers winner, Region III championship
- QB/DB Roney Elam, Sr., 6-3, 170 (22 of 61, 498 yards, 2 TDs, 5 INTs, 73 carries, 374 yards, 8 TDs; 80 tackles, 4 INTs, 2 FFs; committed to Texas A&M )
- RB/DB Calum Foster, Sr., 5-11, 175 (113 carries, 1,277 yards, 15 TDs, 6 catches, 144 yards; 52 tackles, 2 INTs)
- OL Brent Simmons, Sr., 6-3, 287
- RB Jace Thomas, Sr., 5-8, 175 (152 carries, 1,439 yards, 18 TDs)
- LB Raylin Davis, Sr., 5-8, 170 (69 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 fumble recovery)
- OL/DL Dave Lewis, Sr., 6-0, 265 (59 tackles, 5 sacks)
- FB/S Todd Johnson, Sr. (114 rushing yards vs. Dublin)
- RB/S Morgan Brewer, Sr., 5-11, 160 (14 carries, 89 yards vs. Dublin)
- RB/TE/LB Will Phillips, Jr., 6-3, 228 (2 TDs vs. Dublin)
Just the facts
- Newton has reached the region semifinals for the third consecutive season. Its 2013 campaign ended with a loss to White Oak in this round.
- Franklin has reached the regional semifinal round each year since 2011. Its 2013 season ended with a lost to White Oak as well in the regional championship game. The 2012 year ended with a loss to Newton in the regional semifinals.
- Newton athlete Roney Elam headlines all players in the game. He's a Texas A&M commitment.
- Newton led Dublin, 42-6, at the half last week. Franklin made quick work of Maypearl with a 30-7 lead at the break.
- Winning on fourth down could be important for Newton. Despite Franklin's success last week, it got stopped going for it on the final down three times in the first half.
- Franklin's defense did not allow a single point in the first four games of October. The unit is averaging 12.6 points against per game and its season-worst is 38 points given up in a win against a Class 4A Madisonville team.
- Both of Franklin's playoff opponents mustered 13 points through 48 minutes.
- Newton's offense is averaging 38 points per game.
- Despite a 9-3 record, the Eagles have not lost to a Class 3A opponent this season.
- Newton and Franklin share one common opponent, Garrison. Newton won its district game against Garrison, 39-6. Two weeks later, Franklin eliminated Garrison in the bi-district round with a 57-13 victory.
Key matchup: Newton's offense versus Franklin's defense. The facts set that one up. Franklin has been extremely impressive on defense. The group allowed 35 points in district play and held opponents scoreless through four straight games in October.
The Eagles pack an offensive punch even though it's a one-dimensional, run-heavy unit. Newton's offensive average of 38 points was dumbed down by playing five Class 4A teams in non-district, including an athletic Tatum group which held it to seven points.
In district games, its only meetings with Class 3A Division II teams prior to the playoffs, the Eagles averaged 46.4 points per night. In total, Newton is averages 47.7 points against schools its own size.
The Eagles have a few weapons to throw at Franklin's defensive group. Running back Jace Thomas has 18 touchdowns and 1,439 yards. Callum Foster has another 15 scores and 1,277 yards on the ground. The supporting cast has another 1,400 yards.
Newton should be able to get some yardage on the ground, and it's a team too talented to be kept in check a full game.
Defensively, the Eagles are very strong at the defensive back positions. Expect Franklin to have to work equally hard for its scores rather than ripping off long runs.
Don't be surprised if: The Eagles' offensive output is reduced. Franklin has played extremely well on defense all season. This should be Newton's toughest playoff game by a big margin, and the winner of this matchup will be favored in the regional championship game.
Buckle up. It should be a good one.