The Indians dropped their regular-season finale 31-17 to Hillgrove. The loss cost McEachern an opportunity for a Region 4AAAAAA title and a chance to host a postseason contest.
Furthermore, starting quarterback Ty Clemons, who has rushed and passed for more than 1,100 yards this season, was injured in the game with a high ankle sprain. McEachern head coach Kyle Hockman has stated that Clemons’ return tonight is 50/50 at best and will be a game-time decision.
If Clemons can’t play, his replacement will be Hockman’s son, freshman Bailey Hockman.
“Bailey can throw the ball accurately and run our base offensive system well,” Kyle Hockman said.
The signal-caller will hope to keep the Indians’ offense rolling as they’ve averaged 38 points per contest, tied for the second-most in the region.
McEachern running back Taj Griffin, rated among the top junior backs in the nation with seven touchdowns and nearly nine yards per carry, will see increased action against Newton.
“Taj will see more snaps at quarterback in our wildcat package,” Hockman said.
The Rams have given up 28 points per contest this season on defense.
“Newton has an aggressive defense that’s fast,” Hockman said. “We’ll have to negate their speed by blocking well.”
Defensively, the Indians have allowed only 18 points per contest and opponents have surpassed 30 points in only three contests this season, with the lone loss coming against Hillgrove.
Newton’s offense averages only 21 points per game but scored a season-high 49 points last week against Morrow.
Sophomore Romario Johnson has thrown 14 touchdowns and has a team-high 631 yards rushing on the season for the Rams.
“Newton has a good young quarterback who runs well and can throw the ball,” Hockman said. “If we read our keys on defense, we’ll do well (tonight).”
Newton finished second in Region 2AAAAAA and has won two straight with victories over Luella and Morrow to conclude the regular season.
The Rams have made the playoffs for the second straight season and only the fourth time in 13 years.
This marks the fifth consecutive postseason appearance for the Indians, all under Hockman. McEachern dropped its home first-round contest last season to Colquitt County 30-28.
Game: McEachern (8-2) at Newton (5-5), 7:30 p.m.
Last year: First meeting
All-time series: First meeting
Prediction: McEachern 30, Newton 20