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Newton defeats Arkansas City 26-0 via first shutout in 13 years
Colby Gomez racked up 240 yards of total offense for the Railers.
ARKANSAS CITY — There’s a lot of history (and potential history) being made by the Newton High School football program in 2023. Its 26-0 win over Arkansas City on Friday night was no exception — and also inched Greg Slade’s group toward a larger goal in mind.
“If we win our next [two] regular season games, then we’re guaranteed [to be] at least .500,” senior Nick Ruth said. “And then we’ll drive out to Riverfront Stadium and play Derby with a winning record. That’ll be a good one for sure.”
The first item in that plan was a showdown with the Bulldogs (1-4), who will become league mates with the Railers starting next season following the KSHSAA enrollment counts confirming Newton’s descent to AVCTL-II.
It was a test Slade had prepared his team for and it passed with flying colors.
“What a performance by our defense after how they came out last week,” second-year Newton head coach Slade said. “I think [defensive coordinator Ray] Boese got a little fired up this week — and they responded.”
Boese’s unit’s response saw Newton (2-3) record its first shutout of any opponent since 2010 immediately after allowing over 450 yards to Maize South the week prior. It’s that unwavering resilience that continues to propel this Railer squad to new heights.
“That’s our community in general,” Ruth said. “We’re all blue-collar guys. That’s just what Newton is. We’ve got guys that are gonna play until that whistle every single down and I love to see it.”
Newton opened the game by forcing a quick Ark City punt and capitalized with a seven-play, 62-yard touchdown drive capped off by quarterback Colby Gomez’s first of four rushing touchdowns on the night.
The key play you likely forgot: On the ensuing Bulldog possession, Ark City went for it on 4th-and-2 near midfield and turned it over on downs by just inches after a chain measurement. With excellent field position, the Railers put together another scoring drive to take a 13-0 lead just 37 seconds into the second quarter.
The turning point: Once again, the Bulldogs handed Newton the ball in plus territory. Ark City fumbled a completed pass on its next drive that eventually set Gomez up for his third trip to paydirt on foot, jogging into the end zone untouched to put his Railers up 20-0 at halftime.
By the time the final whistle was blown, Gomez had accounted for 240 total yards of offense, 114 through the air with six completions — some jet sweeps — to six different receivers and 126 on the ground.
This includes his six carries and pair of completions on the opening drive of the second half, which lasted seven minutes and 19 seconds to increase Newton’s lead to 26. It was a memorable night for a player who embodies the culture Slade is trying to build in Harvey County.
“We were just pounding the rock the entire first half,” Ruth said. “We kept at it. It was a great performance from Colby, great performance from James [Hulse], we just put everything together this week.”
The Railers didn’t let off the gas defensively through the final 24 minutes, holding Bulldog quarterback Jordey Pierce to just 52 passing yards and Keon Edwards picking him off late in the fourth quarter — with help from a Niko Ramos deflection — to effectively seal the shutout.
Most of Ark City’s offense ran through running back Daxton Weakley, who capped his outing with 69 yards on 20 carries. Both in the box score and on the field, the Bulldogs were never a true scoring threat.
For the final two possessions, Newton played its backups and secured its first victory at Bulldog Stadium in over a decade. As a team, the Railers outgained Ark City 332 yards to 124. Hulse had 96 total yards of offense. Ryder Mapes added 43 rushing yards on eight carries.
“[We have to] take care of ourselves,” Slade said. “And that’s all we talked about all week. … Finishing drives, moving the ball, and putting it in the end zone and then getting stops on defense.”
Full offensive statistics:
Looking ahead: Newton jumps back into AVCTL-I action with a trip north to face Salina South. The Cougars are 0-5 after a 57-14 loss to 5A No. 7 Hutchinson. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. on Oct. 6.