LITHIA — Coaches have long held a belief that playing tough competition early on pays off in the long run. The thought is these gritty early-season matchups will toughen a team for the stretch run, especially during the district slate.
Newsome will test that theory again this season.
After facing Armwood to open the 2010 season, the Wolves meet visiting Jefferson tonight at 7:30. Both the Hawks and Dragons are expected to be serious state title contenders this year.
"If you want to be recognized, you have to be able to compete against the Armwoods and Jeffersons," Newsome coach Ken Hiscock said. "If you can come through those healthy, it will be beneficial later in the season."
Hiscock said the speed his team saw in Week 1 — and will face again tonight against Jefferson — is the biggest difference.
"We hope that when we get to these other teams later on in the year that the game will seem slower to our guys," he said
Newsome, which lost 42-7 against Armwood last Friday, also is preparing for its toughest district game Sept. 24 against Plant City, meaning the Wolves will have faced the Hawks, Dragons and Raiders in three of the first four weeks of regular-season play.
"The county picks the schedule, and it's the same one we had last year," Hiscock said. "But it doesn't matter because that's how we would have wanted it."
Anclote (0-1) at Strawberry Crest (0-0)
Last week: Anclote lost 27-14 against St. Petersburg Catholic, while Strawberry Crest had a bye.
Quick count: The Chargers will open their first all-varsity schedule after a mixed slate last year. Anclote, a second-year school, played a full schedule last season and finished 0-10.
Leto (0-1) at Lennard (1-0)
Last week: Lennard slipped past Bloomingdale 13-7, while Leto was hammered 57-0 by Robinson.
Quick count: The good news for Lennard last week was the defense forced seven turnovers. The bad news is the offense only managed to turn that into 13 points.
Durant (1-0) at Brandon (1-0)
Last week: The Cougars beat Chamberlain 14-0, while the Eagles defeated Alonso 27-7.
Quick count: The Cougars looked good last week against the Chiefs, holding them to 125 total yards of offense. Quarterback Je'Twan Smith accounted for both scores, rushing for a 23-yard touchdown and throwing for a 23-yard TD. Brandon's Darius Lee ran for a pair of scores in the Eagles' season-opening win.
Middleton (0-1) at Plant City (1-0)
Last week: The Raiders shutout East Bay 21-0, and Middleton lost 21-12 to King.
Quick count: Plant City and quarterback Bennie Coney looked sharp in Week 1. Coney finished 10-of-18 for 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Javonte Sykes.
Cambridge Christian (0-1) at Seffner Christian (0-1)
Last week: The Lancers fell 38-15 against Carrollwood Day, and the Crusaders lost to Central Florida Christian 21-20.
Quick count: So close. An extra point was the difference between the Crusaders and their first program win. Tanner Richardson ran in a TD and had a fumble return for a score last week. Don't be surprised if the Crusaders are .500 on Saturday.
Tampa Bay Tech (0-1) at Riverview (0-1)
Last week: The Sharks lost to Freedom 20-6, and Plant beat the Titans 10-0.
Quick count: The Titans lost a lot of players from last year's squad and fell in Week 1 to Plant, but TBT is still a physical group that should have no problem with the Sharks.
Alonso (0-1) at Spoto (1-0)
Last week: The Spartans beat Wharton 37-10, and the Ravens lost to Brandon 27-7.
Quick count: The Spartans displayed their aggressive, attacking defense last week, but also unveiled a new wrinkle — the passing game. Quarterback Nick Addison went 10-of-18 for 321 yards and four TDs.
"We're still a running team," Spoto coach Dale Caparaso said. "But if teams put eight in the box against us 30 times, then we'll throw it 30 times."
Brandon Wright can be reached at email@example.com.