Analysis | Friday Night Drive

Newman looking to get on track against Orion

Newman’s Carter Rude makes a tackle in the backfield against Rockridge Friday, Sept. 2, 2022.

After a dominant defensive performance in a Week 1 rivalry win, Newman couldn’t get in the groove last week in a loss to a strong Rockridge team.

So this week, the Comets are looking to get back to basics and find their rhythm again as they hit the road to take on Orion in their final Three Rivers crossover game before the Mississippi Division games start next week.

“I think this will be a good recovery game. I think we’re going to get it together and find a rhythm on Friday night,” senior Blayke Holbrook said. “We’re going to play a lot better than last week.”

The key this week will be sustaining blocks for four seconds, something the Comets have preached for years. The line struggled to do that last week against a big, strong, physical Rockridge defensive front, and has been challenged by the Newman coaching staff to play better this week.

It’s a challenge that the big boys in the trenches take seriously, and they’re determined to have a better showing against Orion.

“We’ve just got to keep our grit going. I think this will be our best week of practice so far this entire season. I feel like last game was an eye-opener for us, and we know we’ve got to be better about doing our jobs,” junior Christopher Accardi said. “We push each other, strive to do better. We never stop working on the O-line. We’ve just got to keep being all about it up front, keep pushing that sled everyday. If guys aren’t low enough, we tell them to get lower, and we make it a fun competition between each other. We’re still a family about it.”

The first two weeks for the Chargers have looked similar to Newman’s start: a dominant win Week 1, then a loss to a tough opponent in Week 2. Orion rolled past Hall 42-12 in its opener, then lost to Princeton 60-20.

But the Chargers found some success later in the game against the Tigers, and Newman coach Mike LeMay knows it will take some good play on both sides of the ball to come out of the game with a win.

“They’re 1-1, just like us; they got a good Week 1 win, and then they played Princeton. They were able to air it out a little bit later in the game and move the ball, and they’re going to challenge us vertically in the pass game,” LeMay said. “They’ve got some big linemen, and if they block our guys up front, that’s going to be trouble.

“Then on our offensive side, they’re big up front [on defense] and we struggled blocking last week, so our theme this week is to get good at the fundamentals, and blocking is key. If we take care of that, I think we’ll be in pretty good shape to come back and play well this week. I feel confident that the kids will come back and respond and be able to take care of business.”

On film, the Comets see Orion as being more similar to Morrison than Rockridge. Holbrook and his fellow linebackers believe they can be aggressive and attack downhill again this week, something that Rockridge’s big, strong blockers made difficult last Friday.

“I think it’s a little more like Morrison. Rockridge was a very solid team, and they’re playing really good; I think the difference between them and Orion is their speed and their leverage,” Holbrook said. “Orion likes to slow things down, get high on you, they stand up. I think our defense can play pretty good against them. They’re more like Morrison, and we can hopefully squeeze through and fill our gaps, get done what needs to get done.”

After the loss, the Comets have circled the wagons a bit, and turned their focus inward. The first two days of practice this week were centered on hammering home the key concepts LeMay and his coaching staff want to see Friday night; later in the week, they put all those things together. He hopes the focus on the fundamentals and the basic principles on both sides of the ball will help his players play quicker and with more focus come gametime.

The Comets believe that breaking things down to their core parts and then building back up again will be a good way to get into the groove against Orion.

“We want to find our rhythm. Their defense doesn’t move around too much, so we’ve just got to stay on our blocks and do our jobs,” Accardi said. “The most important thing is just doing our jobs. If all 11 of us do our job, then it should be smooth sailing from there.”