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Playoff Preview: Newport Takes on Gallatin County in Round One

Gallatin County (5-5) at Newport (6-4) Class 2A First Round

Winners of their last three, Newport heads into the playoffs with a head of steam.

“I think we're playing pretty good as of late,” said Newport head coach Matt Schmitz. “We kind of battled through some things early in the year and we think we've been playing good football since probably about our fourth game of the year. There were a couple of tough losses in there to two really good teams, but we've been playing well and hopefully it keeps on going.”

Gallatin County has had to battle to get their five wins, playing in a number of close games throughout the season. That being said, though, they are a fundamentally sound team that displays many different kinds of attacks during games.

“We just got to be disciplined,” Schmitz said. “Coach Tim Browning has been there for a while and we scrimmaged against each other in the summer doing seven on seven the last couple of years. They are a well-coached team both on offense and defense and they give you a lot of different looks, a lot of different things especially on offense. We got to be lined up correctly and not beat ourselves in order to have a good night on Friday night.”

The Wildcats come into postseason play without having suffered any major injuries and expect to have their full compliment of players on Friday.

“We're pretty healthy. Knock on wood, we got through our season. So we're in good shape when it comes to overall team health,” said Schmitz.

Newport runs the ball the majority of the time with a multi-pronged attack. Quarterback Paul Price leads the Wildcats with 887 yards and 13 touchdowns, but big back Dominic Joseph leads the team in carries with 121. Also in the rushing mix is Tyree Bolden and David Lynam.

With so many offensive players getting the ball, Schmitz has been happy with the mentality of the players sharing the ball.

“We moved some people around and there are a lot of people on offense who demand touches so it's kind of neat to see how it's all taken shape,” Schmitz said. “We don't have that one guy that is going to carry the ball 30 times a game. We've got four backs, including our quarterback that need some touches, we got receivers that get some touches so I think how everyone has come together through the course of the season is what I am most proud about.”

Like any good ground game, though, the effectiveness of the offensive line lies at the heart of any rushing success. For the Wildcats, their front line plays with toughness and attitude and the results speak for themselves.

“We challenged the offensive line in June when we knew this offense was going to be kind of a run-first team. We wanted to control the clock and pound the ball. We're still no-huddle and we wanted a lot of snaps on offense, so I knew that would take a good offensive line. I always say that the best offensive lines have this attitude of us against the world, and our guys really developed that.”

If Gallatin County wants to slow down the surging Wildcats at home and advance to the second round, they will have to get a push against their offensive line to curb their rushing success. If they cannot, Newport may cruise to another win and keep the good times rolling.

Written by Bryan Burke, associate editor

Photo by Brian Frey