August 24, 2010 11:33:00 AM
MACON -- Cole Newman knows what it takes to be "The Man."
A year ago, he watched teammates Hunter Campbell and Trevor Eaves do their best to lead the Central Academy football team''s rushing attack.
But when Campbell went down with a season-ending injury, Eaves assumed a bigger role and Newman earned an opportunity to contribute.
The graduation of Campbell and Eaves has thrust Newman into an even bigger role this season.
And while it isn''t his style to assume he is "The Man" for the Vikings, he certainly did more than his share in his team''s season opener.
The 5-foot-8, 135-pound junior running back had 28 carries for 195 yards and three touchdowns Friday in a 20-6 victory against Franklin Academy (La.).
For his accomplishment, Newman is The Dispatch''s Prep Player of the Week.
Newman believes his three-touchdown effort was the first of his career. He said he might have had a similar effort in pee wees but nothing close to it in his varsity career.
Newman played as a backup at quarterback, running back, and corner back last season for the Vikings, who play eight-man football in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools. As one of 11 juniors and seniors on a squad that tops out at 13, Newman knows all of the Vikings have to rely on each other to do their part so everyone can stay healthy. If they don''t, it could turn into a long season in a hurry.
That''s why Newman wants to implement the lessons he learned last season from Campbell and Eaves. He said Campbell "went hard every single play," while Eaves "could find holes" in the offensive line to dart through to gain yards.
The opener showed Newman is off to a good start. He credited the team''s six seniors and his offensive line for helping to pave the way for him Friday.
"It feels good to have the ball. I love it," Newman said. "It is fun to run when everyone is chasing you. It is a thrill. I like it a lot."
Newman knows he isn''t the biggest player on the field, so his ability to slip into the smallest gap in the line and find open space is crucial. He said his goal is to get lost behind the Vikings'' big offensive line of Will Sciple, Redmon Butler, Cody Brown, and Matt Taylor.
"They blocked very well (Friday night)," Newman said. "Will got hurt, but he fought through it for us and did really good, Matt too. Cody Brown and the rest of them were opening holes. Will D(isbrow), Drew Pearson, and Jay (Jones) as lead blockers were doing a great job. If there was a hole they would be hitting somebody in it to make room for me to get through. I couldn''t do anything without them."
Central Academy coach Ronnie Sciple said Newman is a lot like Campbell in that he goes all out all of the time. He said he would like to cut back on the number of carries Newman had Friday (the team had 42 rushes) and split the load better among the other running backs.
Sciple also knows how important it is to keep everyone healthy. To do that, he is willing to lighten the work load of some his players in the next few weeks to make sure they are 100 percent entering the start of conference play.
Central Academy plays host to Immanuel Christian at 7 p.m. Friday.
"The biggest thing on him is his heart," Sciple said. "He is a real good kid. He has handled his role well. Cole was a ninth-grader when I took over the program, and he knows what his role is. As people moved on, his role got bigger and bigger. I know he is a little kid, but he has a big heart. He makes up for a lot of hits because he has such a big heart."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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