NEWTON -- There's no secret to the Newton Eagles' early success, according to coach W.T. Johnston.

"We've got good players," Johnston said. "We have a lot of young kids playing right now, and they've come through faster than I thought they would."

Leading the way for the Eagles, who are ranked No. 3 in Class 2A, are senior quarterback and Utah commit D.J. Dean and junior running backs Kevin Shorter and Brandon Johnson. Shorter was offered by Utah three weeks ago. Dean and Shorter have combined for 27 touchdowns, leading an offense that averages 50.7 points per game. That offense has helped the Eagles to a 6-0 start, which includes a 3-0 first-place mark in District 10-2A Division I.

"The biggest improvement on the team has been our offensive line. We're playing better because we have more competition for spots," Johnston said. "When you get all your skill people back from the previous year, there's a carry-over."

Defensive end/outside linebacker Anthony Hadnot is the leader for Newton's defense. The 5-foot-10, 210-pound junior enters Friday's 10-2A D-I contest at Kountze with a team-best 6 1/2 sacks, plus 52 tackles, two forced fumbles, one recovery, and a kick block.

"He's played really well for us," Johnston said. "Very quick, and very strong, with tremendous football sense."

Defensive end Romando Stewart has been a gem that college coaches are noticing. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound senior, who has 34 tackles and three sacks, boasts offers from SFA and Lamar.

Kountze is 5-1 overall and sits in a four-way tie for second at 2-1 in 10-2A D-I play. Johnston said that this year's Kountze squad is the most athletic he's ever seen from that school. The Lions must prepare for a Newton team that has outscored its opponents 304-63.