Meridian Star

Sports

June 27, 2014

Newton seeking toughness

NEWTON — NEWTON — Newton High School senior tight end Cedrick Snow has a particular image he wishes to convey to outsiders of Newton football.

“I want people to see a bunch of young men that are going to go get after it,” said Snow, who also serves as a lineman on the defensive side. “That no matter what you do to them, they are still going to go out there and play you hard and physical for the entire game. They are going to pull through even when they hurt. When teams look at us, I want them to think, 'God, this is going to be a long night for us.'"

The Tigers have begun to mold that image in the weight room and on the training grounds, where they have met four times a week with two goals in mind.

“We’ve been working very hard,” Newton coach Keith Walton said. “We’ve been getting stronger and faster. We have to get stronger, and we have to get faster. We lift weights Monday through Thursday starting at 7 a.m. We have to work hard. That’s all I and the kids know right now.”

The summer workouts also serve as an opportunity for the players to position themselves to be in top physical condition.

“We don’t have a very big squad as a 2A school,” Walton said. “We have a lot of kids that play both ways. They have to be in shape. We have to be the best-conditioned team in our district.”

Newton is seeking to build upon a 4-6 season in 2013, a campaign that saw the Tigers reach the playoffs for the first time since 2010. And they are hopeful that greater things are to come thanks in large part to the rigorous work they have put in during the offseason.

But the team will have to manage to deal with the loss of 15 seniors from last year’s squad, leaving just five seniors to take on a leadership role this season.

“When you’ve been in this program for the seven years, from junior high to now, I expect them to set the tone,” Walton said of his seniors. “(Snow) is one of our leaders. He’s here in the mornings, the afternoons and puts in the work after hours. After we shut down, he’s here on his own working out. He sets the tone.”

Snow is looking to develop a strong mentality among the team that is able to withstand any adversity.

“We try to start that mindset off in the weight room,” Snow said. “In the weight room, that’s where we learn how to push through and fight through. The harder you work in here, the easier the game is going to be. When you get tired on that fourth and fifth set, you have to keep fighting and push through the pain to get it done.”

In particular, Snow emphasized that the summer is where games are won or lost in the fall.  

“These days decide if you are a champion or if you are a loser,” Snow said. “If you skip these days, you might as well skip the season. If you don’t maximize these days to the fullest, then you will never be ready for the season.”

In addition to on-campus workouts, Tiger players have participated in various 7-on-7 camps across the state, while the lineman have attended camps as a single unit at the University of Alabama’s summer football camps.  

“When you play 7-on-7, it’s a very competitive environment,” Walton said. “Quarterbacks need to work on going through their progressions, and wide receivers are working on their hands and making cuts, and for the defense to be able to work on their coverages. When you go into those games, you have to be competitive, and part of that is being mentally tough. It prepares them mentally and physically.”

Yet Walton points out the benefits of taking part in camps that include schools of a higher classification.

“When we play Meridian High School, that’s a 6A school, and our kids are playing against top-quality athletes,” Walton said. “They have major college recruits. And all the rest of the schools are extremely talented as well.”

Similar to the workouts, the camps have provided an avenue for the Tigers to continually improve this offseason.

“We just have to continue to work every day and get better each day,” Walton said.

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