Thursday, June 21, 2018
Sports

Newsome's ground game has it flying high

LITHIA — It must be incredibly frustrating to know something is coming, but not be able to do anything about it.

That's precisely what defenses facing Newsome have dealt with all season.

Here comes the wing T — good luck.

"We pride ourselves on our preparation and blocking schemes," quarterback Will Worth said. "We like to punish people. It's the Wolves way."

Newsome's ground-and-pound throwback offense has yielded some impressive results.

After beating Plant City 40-7 a week ago, Newsome secured a spot in the playoffs for the fourth time in five years, missing out last season, with a 40-7 win against Plant City Nov. 2.

It boosted its record to 6-4 with a 41-7 victory over Bloomingdale, setting the stage for tonight's Class 7A playoff battle at Gaither.

"We had something to prove after last year," running back John Hendricks said of missing the postseason in 2011.

And it's the relentless ground game that serves as the main reason the Wolves are returning to the playoffs. While most teams have switched to a pass-heavy approach, Newsome has remained successful keeping the ball on the ground.

"It's what we do best," coach Ken Hiscock said.

After losing their first three games — two against playoff-bound Tampa Bay Tech and Hillsborough — Newsome has won six of its last seven. In all six wins, the Wolves topped the 30-point mark and have only scored fewer than 23 points once all year.

Newsome, which runs the ball about 90 percent of the time, has a variety of run weapons.

Hendricks (87 carries, 579 yards), a quick-footed bruiser, mainly operates between the tackles but has the ability to break a big one.

"I'd much rather give the punishment than receive," he said.

Clint Carnell (77 carries, 629 yards) typically gets the call on sweeps.

"He's fast as lightning," Worth said of Carnell.

One play in particular is Carnell's signature carry. With Worth in the shotgun, Carnell starts in motion and once the ball is snapped, Worth has the option to hand it to him as he runs parallel to the line of scrimmage or keep it himself. With all the moving parts involved, it's a play that requires impeccable timing.

"We probably do that one particular play 100 times at practice," Carnell said.

And then there's Worth, the unquestioned boss of the team.

"He gives us pep talks before games, at halftime and after games," Hendricks said. "He's our leader on and off the field."

Hiscock agreed.

"When Will speaks, they listen," he said. "He's just an awesome kid to be around."

Worth leads the team in rushing attempts (195), yards (1,139), and TDs (16).

"He's the quarterback, but I consider him a running back," Carnell said.

The Wolves' old-school approach has them thinking a deep playoff run is possible.

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