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Newton clashes with Derby at Riverfront Stadium to end regular season
The Railers haven't beaten the Panthers since 1989.
To cap its regular season high school football series, the Wichita Wind Surge’s Riverfront Stadium will play host to Newton and Derby on Friday night. It’ll be the first game in the ballpark for either program’s history.
“We can’t give up big plays to Derby,” Railers head coach Greg Slade said on this week’s Railer Report Coach’s Show. “We can’t play the football we played [last week] and be [successful]. … We have to clean up the mistakes on offense and defense.”
Newton enters this matchup sporting a 3-4 record following an upset loss to Haysville-Campus, 30-20, a week ago. The Panthers come in at 6-1 after clinching the AVCTL-I title by defeating Maize South last week, 35-27.
Here’s everything you need to know.
Location: Riverfront Stadium (Wichita)
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Weather: 77 degrees. Clear. 0% chance of rain.
Spread (via the Esch Index): Derby (-37)
What’s at stake?
With a win, Newton would score its first victory over Derby since 1989 and finish a regular season at least .500 for the first time since 2013. The Railers would go into the 5A-West playoffs no lower than 12th and as high as 10th.
If the Panthers come out on top, they would cap the regular season on a seven-game win streak and enter the 6A-West playoffs as no lower than the third seed. If Newton loses, it could fall to as far as 14th based on the results of Maize at Haysville-Campus and Wichita South vs. Wichita West.
As is the case for a vast majority of teams when facing Derby, how often Newton’s defense will be able to create opportunities for its offense will be the major key to a shot at victory. Entering as a 37-point Esch Index underdog, the Railers will need to force turnovers and give themselves short fields with help from their special teams — Newton had a kickoff return touchdown in 2022 that helped build its 20-13 halftime lead over the Panthers.
Players to watch
Newton: QB Colby Gomez. To put it bluntly, Newton’s chances of being competitive with Derby for an extended period bank almost solely on the senior’s performance. No. 8 running downhill will be the go-to for the Railers.
Derby: RB Derek Hubbard. Despite losing Dylan Edwards (who now starts for Deion Sanders at Colorado), Derby has reloaded its ground attack and will look to set the tone with the tough-running senior Hubbard.
Facts and figures
In 53 previous meetings, Newton is 12-41 against Derby. The Railers have lost 21 games in a row to the Panthers. … This season, Newton is averaging 18 points per game. Derby is just over 40. … Newton has the 23rd-ranked offense and 15th-ranked defense in 5A. Derby has the fifth-ranked offense and 11th-ranked defense in 6A.
Esch Index projection: Derby 40, Newton 3