Coaches will tell you that every game in the Three Rivers Conference is going to be against a good opponent. That’s just the nature of a tough league.
The Newman Comets are certainly seeing that firsthand in the first few weeks of the 2021 season.
The first four games for Newman this fall: a rivalry game against Morrison to open, then a road trip to Rockridge before returning home to face Orion, then traveling to St. Bede in Week 4.
That’s a daunting gauntlet for any team to go through.
“I think starting with our rival is the best way to start off the season; it really gets you going right away,” lineman Elliot Noble said. “The best team we play is always the next team we play, so we just keep focusing on the next team.”
The Comets (1-0) took care of business in Week 1 against Morrison, winning 34-6. They limited the Mustangs to 109 yards of offense – all on the ground – with 75 of those yards coming on one drive.
Newman, meanwhile, ran for 255 yards and added 62 yards through the air. Marcus Williams ran for 106 yards on back-to-back touchdown runs – of 51 and 55 yards – late in the second quarter as the Comets took control going into halftime.
“We were really pumped up knowing we were facing our rival in Week 1,” lineman Trenten Hicks said. “I feel like the team really got it together last week, and we got everything going at practice, and it carried over to the game.”
That carryover effect is something the Comets hope to bring from week to week, especially with such a tough start.
But Newman has long been known as a small-picture team, looking not at the season as a whole, but instead focusing intensely on the next week’s opponent.
“We always tell the kids that the next opponent we play is the best opponent we play, and it doesn’t matter who it is,” Newman coach Brandon Kreczmer said. “We’re going to get everyone’s best shot, because that’s what they always do against us.”
But in return, Newman is going to give each of its opponents its best shot week in and week out – and Kreczmer believes there’s no better way to do that than to have a challenging start to the schedule to see how the Comets stack up right out of the gate.
“You always want to be tested early to see where you’re at; I wouldn’t want it any other way,” Kreczmer said. “A rivalry game, then Rockridge and Orion and St. Bede, and after that I don’t know who we have, but I know it’s going to be a tough game.
“Our conference is one of the best small-school conferences in the state, and you know you’re going to see a good team every week.”
For the record, the Week 5 opponent is Bureau Valley at home, followed by a trip to Princeton in Week 6.
But the Comets aren’t looking that far ahead. Instead, they’re working on improving each day, playing a better game every week, and continuing to use the tough opening slate as motivation to give it their all every day in practice.
“With a rival right away, we weren’t going to take our first week soft and slow, and we kept going hard every single day at practice, no matter what, and we were going to be ready,” Hicks said. “We kept doing that this week, and then we’ll keep doing it again next week, and we’re going to keep on going, getting better and improving for nine weeks.”