Class 3A Division II

State Semifinals

Newton Eagles (11-3)

Vs.

Blanco Panthers (14-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday
Waller ISD Stadium, Waller

 

Coaches
  • Newton: W.T. Johnston
  • Blanco: Danny Rogers

 

Road to the state semifinal

Newton

 

Blanco

  • Bi-district: def. Boling, 60-0
  • Area: def. Taft, 56-14
  • Regional semifinal: def. East Bernard, 14-7
  • Regional final: def. Odem, 55-34

 

Next week
  • Winner plays Waskom-Sonora winner, Class 3A Division II State Championship Game

 

Playmakers

Newton

  • QB/DB Roney Elam, Sr., 6-3, 170 (28 of 73, 583 yards, 3 TDs, 6 INTs, 88 carries, 397 yards, 9 TDs; 99 tackles, 4 INTs, 3 forced fumbles, 3 recoveries, 5 blocked kicks; committed to Texas A&M )
  • RB/DB Calum Foster, Sr., 5-11, 175 (153 carries, 1,673 yards, 21 TDs, 7 catches, 142 yards; 71 tackles, 2 INTs, 1 fumble forced)
  • OL Brent Simmons, Sr., 6-3, 287
  • RB Jace Thomas, Sr., 5-8, 175 (170 carries, 1,501 yards, 19 TDs, 6 catches, 116 yards)
  • LB Raylin Davis, Sr., 5-8, 170 (91 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery)
  • OL/DL Dave Lewis, Sr., 6-0, 265 (72 tackles, 5 sacks)
  • LB Tanner Holmes, Jr., 6-3, 215 (167 tackles, 1 INT)

 

Blanco

  • QB/S McKay Adamson, Sr., 6-0, 170
  • RB Colton Elrod, Sr., 6-0, 175
  • LB/RB Aikman Elrod, Sr., 6-1, 200
  • RB Adrien Dominguez, Jr.

 

Just the facts
  • Newton represents Region III in the state semifinal round.
  • Blanco, situated 45 miles northwest of San Marcus, is the Region IV representative.
  • Newton has not lost a game since September and all of its losses came against Class 4A teams.
  • Blanco is undefeated and finished the regular season ranked the No. 6 team in Class 3A, behind Waskom at No. 5. Newton checked in at No. 13.
  • Newton is one half of the last hope for an all-East Texas state championship game. If the Eagles win and Waskom wins its game on the opposite side of the bracket, they will meet for the Class 3A Division II Championship Game next week.
  • Blanco defeated its 14 prior opponents by a 577-101 margin.
  • The Panthers defense gives up about a touchdown per game.
  • Newton's defense has not allowed more than 26 points since Oct. 24 against Corrigan-Camden.
  • The Eagles offense averages 38 points a game.
  • Newton will travel through North Houston on the way to Waller, a 180-mile trip to the stadium. Blanco's trip is 168 miles, one-way.

 

Key matchup: Newton's defense versus Blanco's defense. The Eagles will have to go the distance with a Blanco unit that averages seven points given up per week.

The Panthers like to run the ball and do so out of shotgun and power run formations alike. They put up 369 yards on 52 carries last week in the win against Odem.

Newton, however, has performed well against teams that lean on the rushing attack. Perhaps most impressive, the Eagles defense managed to contain Malyk Johnson and Keegan Mitchell, both 1,000-yard rushers, enough for a 44-26 win in district play.

The big key to Newton's defensive success is its athleticism in the secondary. There just aren't many players that can outrun Roney Elam and Calum Foster. Linebacker Tanner Holmes is on a tear as one of East Texas' most productive tacklers and Dave Lewis headlines a defensive line that can get a good push.

Newton's offense probably won't be held to Blanco's average. The squad smashed impressive Franklin and Rogers defensive units in its previous two playoff wins, but it will need its own solid performance on defense to give itself the best chance to win.

Don't be surprised if: The topic of strength of schedule is raised in the aftermath of Friday's game. Talent pockets shift year-to-year around the state, and the two sides have no common opponents due to the sheer distance between them. It's an incredibly tough match up to gauge by the numbers.

A Newton win against a group outscoring opponents by a 476-point margin would be a big victory for East Texas' football tradition.