1. Sports
  2. /
  3. HomeTeam

It’s all in the preparation for Newsome High football

The Wolves face Sarasota Riverview on Friday with the Class 8A, District 8 title on the line.
Newsome coach Christian Yockey, right, has the Wolves and quarterback Nicholas Felice, left, at 7-1 and on the verge of a possible district title. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
Newsome coach Christian Yockey, right, has the Wolves and quarterback Nicholas Felice, left, at 7-1 and on the verge of a possible district title. [SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times]
Published Oct. 17

LITHIA — When Newsome High’s football team walks onto the field for warmups, they don’t look particularly tough.

Or tall, or big, or strong.

“We know that,” Wolves senior tight end Kyle Sellers said. “The other teams see us and say, ‘Oh, look at them, we’re going to beat them.’ ”

And then — steadily, efficiently and smartly — Newsome runs and tackles and more often than not, beats the opposition.

This year, for instance, Newsome is 7-1 and 3-0 in Class 8A, District 8, and, if they can defeat Sarasota Riverview (5-2, 3-0) Friday night, all the Wolves have to do is top Ridge Community in their final regular-season game to seal up an undefeated district title.

“But we first have to focus on Sarasota Riverview because that’s the biggest game we’ve had since 2012 when we were in the playoffs,” Newsome coach Christian Yockey said. “This week is all about Sarasota Riverview.”

Related: MORE PREP FOOTBALL: That kid at camp is now Northside Christian’s starting quarterback

That means breaking down tons of film and finding every little nuance that Newsome could possibly exploit, a trait that Yockey appears to be exceptionally good at, which makes more sense once you learn he teaches AP calculus.

“We believe we have the smartest coach in the world,” said Sellers, who, by the way, has an almost 6.00 weighted grade-point average and takes AP calculus with Yockey. “When we walk onto the field, we always feel like we are more prepared than our opponent. It’s such a great feeling.”

That feeling has pretty much been there for years and years, first under coach Ken Hiscock before he handed over the head coaching reins to his assistant coach, Yockey, two years ago.

Newsome sophomore Jason Albritton is much bigger, faster and stronger than he was a year ago, which has translated into many bruising collisions for opponents. [SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times]

It was a moment Yockey, 35, had dreamed about ever since he played high school football in Ohio before earning his math degree at Ohio State. He did not play in college, but the coaching bug stayed strong in his heart.

In 2006 he moved to Hillsborough County, where he took a teaching and assistant coaching job at Lennard before moving over in 2010 to Newsome.

“I absolutely love it here,” Yockey said. “You could never ask for a better group of kids than the ones at Newsome.”

No, they may not always be the biggest or strongest, but there are few teams that play more on the same page than the Wolves, who are, despite their looks, tougher than most.

This year, the group is another exercise in spreading the workload.

Related: RELATED: RPI rankings for Class 8A football

Junior quarterback Nicholas Felice, for instance, hasn’t set any passing records but he has been efficient and smart while running the Wolves’ hybrid wing-T. Felice has completed 37 of 77 attempts for 618 yards and eight touchdowns with three interceptions.

The running backs, meantime, have been a mix of pounding toughness with sophomore Jason Albritton (124 carries, 969 yards, 10 touchdowns) and senior Landon White (66 carries, 636 yards, eight TDs) and speedier guys such as Deandre Perez (25, 235), Jack Arnone (33, 316) and Jose Rodriguez (25, 238).

Defensively, Newsome is also much better than last year, applying more pressure up front and capitalizing on opportunities in the secondary, hence the four interceptions by Kevin Osborn and three by Devan Belcher.

“I think that type of success goes back to how well-prepared we are,” Sellers said. “We know how to handle situations.”

Intimidated? No.

Underestimated? Yes.

“We like it when teams feel over-confident when they play us,” Sellers said. “Because we know what we can do.”


  1. A little more than a month into the season, Nature Coast Tech sophomore Kennedy Weissman leads the state in scoring with 41 goals and 92 points, almost double the totals of the next closest player. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
    The sophomore has a whopping 41 goals so far this season, easily tops of any player in Florida.
  2. Largo's Julia Violante (6), center, gets a hug from teammate Sarai Faulkner (17), right, while joining Asti Luff (23), left, and McKenzie Emery (14) at midfield moments after scoring her second goal of the night (2-0) against St. Petersburg on Monday. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  TImes]
    The University of Florida commit is having a banner season on the pitch, but is missing her biggest fan.
  3. Hezekiah B. Walters, 14, was a member of Men of Vision, a local non-profit for teens. He collapsed while participating in football conditioning drills at Middleton High School during the summer. [MEN OF VISION  |  Special to the Times]
    The death of Middleton High’s Hezekiah B. Walters during summer conditioning helps spark a bill that seeks better protection for players at practices and games.
  4. East Lake and rival St. Petersburg squared off Tuesday night, this time as non-district foes. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    The Eagles’ 67-30 victory over the Green Devils is their fourth straight in the series since late last season.
  5. Springstead guard Unique Torain makes a nifty assist during a victory at Nature Coast on Tuesday night. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
    The Eagles are led by Unique Torain’s 18 points and unselfish play.
  6. Clearwater wide receiver Keedrik Murray (5) catches the ball for a touchdown during the first quarter at Gaither High on Nov. 15. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    The 25th edition of the game will be held at Clearwater High.
  7. Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott talks with receivers Mike Williams (7) and Artavis Scott (3) during a 2016 game at FSU. Scott was named USF's coach Monday. [DAVID GROOMS/CAL SPORT MEDIA  |]
    Though not the bay area’s primary recruiter for Clemson, Scott’s fingerprints are all over the region.
  8. Tampa Catholic's Alijah Harrison attempts to block the ball from Andrew Jackson's Logan West during last year's state semifinals in Lakeland. [LUIS SANTANA  |  Times]
    Tampa Catholic holds on to the top spot after an impressive opening week.
  9. Tampa Bay Tech's Amiya Evans (30) drives the ball during the first half of the state championship game between Tampa Bay Tech and St. Thomas Aquinas last season in Lakeland. [Times]
    The big three stays the same, but Wesley Chapel moves up a slot in our latest rankings.
  10. Tampa Prep's Grace Langston (50), left, works to disrupt a shot attempt by Wesley Chapel's Mia Nicholson (12) during the game on Friday. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  TImes]
    The Wildcats lead early, then hang on to improve to 5-0 on the season.