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At a glance, Newsome’s opening schedule looks rather grizzly — at Tampa Bay Tech, at Jefferson, then a home tilt against Hillsborough.
The Wolves, though, say bring on those bears.
“We enjoy the competition, the speed of the game,” coach Kenneth Hiscock said. “It’s a benefit for our program to go face some of the teams that are usually state runners-up or winning the state titles.”
Newsome front loads its schedule with Tampa’s best teams on what is becoming an annual basis — and typically suffers some tough losses. Last season, the Wolves opened 1-2 with Armwood and Jefferson at least doubling Newsome’s score. In 2009, the Wolves opened 0-3. Despite the blemishes on their overall record, the players agree with their coach’s thinking that playing the best better prepares them for district play. And with a perfect 12-0 record, including three district titles in the past three years, it’s hard to argue with those results.
“It’s definitely different than playing teams on our side of the county. There’s a lot of size and a lot of speed,” said senior Keller Powers. “It builds the team up and gets us stronger for the district games that really matter.”
As the fullback in Newsome’s wing-T offense, Keller is the team’s featured back, Hiscock said. In last week’s preseason win against Steinbrenner, Keller ran for 165 yards and scored four touchdowns, three of which came on the ground. He’s taking over for his older brother, Conner, who ran for more than 4,500 yards over his four varsity seasons, including a Hillsborough County-high 1,790 yards with 28 touchdowns.
“He told me to condition hard,” the younger Powers said, dripping with sweat in a break from practice. “Just watching him, I pretty much picked up a ton of stuff — balance quickness and just being tough.”
That toughness will come in handy starting Friday.