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Newton set to open season at Valley Center
The Railers look to tally their first season-opening win since 2018.
On Friday, the Newton High School football team will kickoff its 2023 season and second campaign under the leadership of Greg Slade with a trip down I-135 to Valley Center. These two met in 2022, the Hornets stealing a 21-17 victory at Fischer Field Stadium in a game the Railers led in the fourth quarter.
“One of the things we had to learn at the beginning of last season was how to win those close games,” Slade said on the Railer Report Coach’s Show about last year’s matchup with Valley Center. “The most important thing when preparing for any team is taking care of our stuff. We have to execute.”
Here’s everything you need to know about this week’s non-league opener.
Location: Valley Center Middle School
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Weather: 91 degrees. Sunny and clear. 0% chance of rain.
Spread (via the Esch Index): Newton (-5)
What’s at stake?
With a win, Newton would start a season 1-0 for the first time since 2018 and tally its first victory over Valley Center since 2014. For the Hornets, a win would see them improve to 3-0 at home against the Railers since 2013. It’s the first of two matchups against AVCTL-II opponents for Newton this season.
The Newton offense will get an early check-in with a Valley Center defense that allowed 22 points per game last season. It’s the first time in senior quarterback Colby Gomez’s tenure as the starter that he begins a season in the same system he ran at the end of the previous season. Success against the Hornets will hinge on the ability of the Railers to make plays at critical moments down the stretch and capitalize on selective passing opportunities — Dellen Claassen emerged as Gomez’s go-to target in August.
Players to watch
Newton: LB Keon Edwards. The senior made the full-time transition from safety to outside linebacker this offseason and will now be tasked with containing dynamic rusher Dai’Mont Mucker (more on him below) right away. It’ll be a good test for Edwards and the entire Railer defense.
Valley Center: RB Dai’Mont Mucker. It’s no secret that the senior established himself as one of the premier offensive weapons in the greater Wichita area in 2022, racking up 1,864 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground (22 total). It’ll be hard to stop the Hornets without stopping Mucker first.
Facts and figures
Newton is 18-15 against Valley Center in 33 meetings since 1985. … In 2022, Newton went 3-6 and averaged 23 points per game. Valley Center went 7-3 and averaged 21 points per game. … Newton’s most recent season-opening win on the road was in 2018 (vs. Buhler). Valley Center’s most recent season-opening win at home was in 2017 (vs. Salina South).
Esch Index projection: Newton 22, Valley Center 17