By Max Terrell
After training hard and competing in a regional camp in Dallas to make the cut, the Racers headed down to Indianapolis for the NFL's High School Player Development 7-on-7 Tournament.
The tournament pitted 32 teams from across the country against one another to see who was the best of the best. The teams selected represented the 32 NFL teams, with the Racers being selected to represent the Dallas Cowboys.
Newcastle took 11 players with them which include: Zach Bergt, Parker Bolles, Brady Davis, Casey Freeman, Gavin Garner, C.J. Hill, Isaac Johnson, Shane Martin, Ben Persall, Kyle Rice and Britt West.
The Racers ended the tournament with a 4-5 record for the event. This finish comes after playing teams like Booker T. Washington who were the national high school champions last year and won this years 7-on-7 tournament. Newcastle was also one of the few teams that were all from the same school. Most of the 32 teams were hand picked from a variety of different schools and placed onto their respective NFL teams.
The Racers won their first round in the playoffs during the tournament and made it all the way to their divisional championship where they lost to the Washington Redskins affiliated team, which had hand picked from 640 different players from the Washington area.
Newcastle Racer head football coach Keith Bolles feels that playing this level of competition has improved the players.
"I thought, seeing the competition our kids got to see is only going to make us better for the upcoming season," Bolles said. "We saw some really good athletes. I know that obviously there are some things we need to work on and get better. I saw improvement each day we were there, and each game we played, we learned a little more. As a coach that is all you can ask for."
Of the 11 athletes brought to the tournament to compete, all eleven players improved and played well, Bolles said.
The quarterback, Casey Freeman, and his receivers made great throws and catches all camp and it was hard to single single anyone player out during the tournament, Bolles said. In a 7-on-7 game they have to work as a group and a team.
The tournament had fierce competition and worked towards improving the athletes on the field but also to work with the athletes off the field.
The competition has a structured focus having strict schedules and making sure the athletes were busy, he said. One of the requirements that the tournament set was that the players had to attend character development meetings.
These meetings were conducted by former NFL players and talked about issues that many young athletes have to deal with such as maintaining high standards of character. There were also sessions about social media, which is an immediate issue students deal with daily.
"I thought one of the most unique things [about the character development during] the second night we were there right after dinner, and they had what they called a breakout session," Bolles said. "There were 16 different rooms with two teams to each room. Each team had an NFL player and the one that stuck out to me was the session about social media and how when you post something there are repercussions later on. I think that really struck a chord with our kids."
Other ex-NFL players talked to the athletes about their mistakes such as gun problems, drugs, and the dangers of not managing one's money.
Some of the Racers themselves had positive comments to make in front of the other 500 people attending the tournament and asked questions to the ex players and were very involved, Bolles said.
By Max Terrell
The Newcastle Racer football team has played its way into the NFL High School Player Development (HSPD) 7-on-7 tournament.
The national tournament has been held for the last seven years and has evolved since the first tournament in 2007.
The tournament places 32 teams from different regions of the country in competition against one another with each team representing one of the 32 NFL teams. This year Newcastle will be representing the Dallas Cowboys.
To qualify for the tournament, the team had to make its way down to Dallas and compete against a variety of other teams for the chance to represent the Cowboys. Each team in the 7-on-7 tournament can consist of 12 players and two coaches with seven players on the field.
Representing the Racers are: Zach Bergt, Parker Bolles, Brady Davis, Casey Freeman, Gavin Garner, C.J. Hill, Isaac Johnson, Shane Martin, Ben Persall, Kyle Rice, Britt West.
The tournament looks to help improve the skill set of the football players involved, and while it is a tournament format it is also a camp instead of just a tournament, Racer Head Coach Keith Bolles said.
This particular camp is not just about football. According to the NFL's official website, while the Racers will have the chance to compete against some of the best athletes in the country, the students will also be required to attend character development training. These training sessions will involve speakers, breakout sessions, and group activities in hopes of teaching the athletes from around the country about character and structure.
"I love the character development," Bolles said. "They will get to hear a lot of stories from different guys. If all 12 guys going to the camp take those lessons in then it will spread through the entire program."
Before heading to the 7-on-7 camp, the Racers spent a weekend at the football camp at Oklahoma Baptist University to focus on improving for the upcoming football season, Bolles said.
While the Racers and the coaches are keeping focused on the upcoming season that sees the Racers moving up to 4A competition, the athletes and the coaches are excited for the chance to play in the NFL and National Guard sponsored tournament.
"That's a great opportunity for them," Bolles said. "They competed hard to get in and are looking forward to the trip."
Be sure to pick up next week's Pacer for a follow-up.
Junior Casey Freeman threw for 196 yards and two scores, junior Zach Bergt ran for 105 yards and a score of his own, and the Newcastle Racers trounced the Sulphur Bulldogs 28-6 Nov. 15 in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs.
The game was played in front of a raucous home crowd at Racer Stadium.
Bergt struck first for Newcastle (8-3, 5-1 district) as he broke through the middle of the Bulldogs line with two minutes left in the first quarter, putting the Racers up first 7-0. A few minutes later, with 10 minutes to go in the second, junior Glenn Cerney caught a laser up the gut from Freeman to make it 14-0, while Freeman added his own four yard QB keeper just before halftime.
After a scoreless third quarter, Sulphur got on the board with a QB run up the middle for six, but missing on the PAT attempt. Bergt caught a TD throw from Freeman with six minutes to go, all but wrapping things up for Keith Bolles and his boys.
The Racers now move on to the second round, and a road rematch with the top-ranked Blanchard Lions. The Lions (10-0, 6-0 district) are coming off of a 76-13 shellacking of Perkins-Tryon.
Kickoff in Blanchard is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22. Ticket prices for all Class 3A second-round games are $5 for both students and adults. Only admission passes issued by the OSSAA will be honored.
All that remained for Coach Keith Bolles and his Newcastle Racers was to take care of business against the hapless Bethel Wildcats.
After the Racers (7-3, 5-1 district) trounced the winless Wildcats 37-7 on the road Nov. 8, Newcastle can enjoy hometown playoff football.
The Racers welcome the Class 3A-4 Sulphur Bulldogs to Racer Stadium Friday, Nov. 15. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.
“Sulphur has some very good athletes, they have a big quarterback who likes to run the ball,” Bolles said. “They’re more of a spread-type offense, spread everyone out so he can get in space and run, see what he can do.”
The Bulldogs (5-5, 4-3 district) went 1-4 in their first five games of the season, including losses to undefeated Plainview and second place district team Lone Grove. To qualify for the playoffs, they turned around and went 4-1 in the final five games of the year, including upset district wins over Purcell and Pauls Valley, who the Racers defeated in their season opener.
Racer head coach Keith Bolles gave the ball to his ground game, and after a defensive battle in the first half, junior Zach Bergt and the rest of Newcastle’s rushers took Star Spencer to the woodshed, whipping the Bobcats 41-6 Thursday, Oct. 17 at Racer Stadium.
The Racers (5-2. 3-0 district) remain undefeated at home as they challenge Kingfisher for the top spot in District 3A-3, for their last year in Class 3A before Newcastle moves up to Class 4A. The Bobcats (2-5, 1-3 district) fall to near the bottom of the district standings, with their lone win coming against winless Bethel.
Second place is a familiar spot for the Racers this season, as they currently hold second place in the district in season passing yards (junior Casey Freeman, 830 yards), rushing yards (Bergt, 654), receiving yards (junior Ben Persall, 218), scoring (Bergt, 90), and interceptions (Freeman, four).
Junior Casey Freeman was 13 of 23 on passing while junior Zach Bergt ran for 83 yards on 23 carries for two scores, and the Newcastle Racers beat the Oklahoma Centennial Bison 33-14 in front of a raucous homecoming crowd Friday, Oct. 4 at Racer Stadium.
“With all the changes, homecoming, they’re working on floats all week and the carnival, and the earlier kickoff time, it was good for us that we had a lot of changes,” Racer Head Coach Keith Bolles said. “We had a lot of changes and we were able to adapt and go.”
Bergt, who has 387 yards on the season with nine touchdowns, opening things up early for the Racers (3-2, 1-0 district) when he ran in a one-yard score with 8:19 left in the first quarter. Senior Reagan Ross added a field goal when penalties pushed the Racers out of the red zone on their next drive, giving Newcastle a 10-0 lead to end the quarter.
Another Ross field goal in the second gave Newcastle a 13-0 halftime lead, however Bergt exploded in the Racers’ first drive of the half, notching another score on another one-yard run less than three minutes in. Junior Britt West added a 26-yard touchdown run in the quarter, however the following PAT was blocked by Centennial, leaving the Racers a 26-0 lead to start the final frame.
Junior Casey Freeman had two touchdowns and 166 yards through the air, junior Zach Bergt had 94 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries, but in the end it wasn’t enough.
The Tuttle Tigers held off a fourth quarter rally by the Racers to down Newcastle 28-25 Friday, Sept. 26 in Tuttle.
After falling behind 14-0 in the first, the Racers (2-2) pulled within four on a Reagan Ross field goal and a touchdown before Tuttle struck again, entering the half ahead 21-10.
With a fourth Tigers touchdown in the third, Newcastle managed to score 15 points in the fourth quarter, however it was not enough to prevent the Tiger victory by a field goal.
Heading into district play, the Racers sport a balanced offense, averaging 186 yards passing and 151 yards rushing per game. Defensively, the Racers average 49 tackles per game and have 10 sacks on the season, but only one interception and six forced fumbles.
The second season starts now, however, as the Racers start district play Friday, Oct. 4 with their Homecoming matchup against Oklahoma Centennial.
The Bison (3-1) are 1-0 in Class 3A-3 following a 35-13 victory over the Bethel Wildcats, and are on a two-game winning streak following a 62-0 shellacking at the hands of Anadarko on Sept. 13. Centennial’s other wins are over U.S. Grant and Capitol Hill High Schools.
While Centennial currently has the district league in rankings released by maxpreps.com, the Bison are limited by a weak non-conference schedule, providing an ample opportunity for the Racers to rebound from a pair of losses to Tri-City opponents.
Junior Casey Freeman was held to 11 for 28 on pass attempts, junior Zach Bergt was held to eight yards on eight carries rushing, and the defending Class 3A State champs were just too much for the Newcastle Racers.
The Racers (2-1) fell to the Blanchard Lions 28-7 Friday, Sept. 20 in Newcastle’s first road game of the season in Blanchard.
“The game was a slow start for us,” Newcastle Head Coach Keith Bolles said. “It took us darn near the first half to figure out that we can get in there and take care of business. We were just unsure of either our ability or what we wanted to do in that first half.”
Blanchard (3-0), long regarded for their dominating running game, came rushing down the Racers’ throats from the get-go. Despite losing their first possession on an early fumble recovered by Newcastle, the Lions stuffed what had so-far been a high production Racer offense. After logging 400+ yard offensive performances in two home games, the Lions held Bolles’ offense to 178 yards total, including only 41 on the ground.
Keith Bolles’ defense notched two scores, the offense stays grounded to pound in three more, and the Newcastle Racers ran rampant over the Verdigris Cardinals 51-7 Friday, Sept. 13 at Racer Field.
The Racers (2-0) capped their first offensive possession with a 10-yard touchdown run by sophomore Cory Hill. Newcastle did not let up from there, scoring 27 unanswered points in the first quarter alone.
“We’ve got a team that I am very proud of,” Bolles said. “They keep getting better each week. As a coach, that’s what you want, to keep getting better. Verdigris is a good football team, and I think we came out defensively and played the best we have so far.”
On the ensuing Cardinals possession, a fumble at their own 25-yard line was recovered by junior Zach Bergt, who ran it in for another six Newcastle points. Bergt struck again on the next Racer possession for a 10-yard TD run.
After stifling the Cardinals offense yet again, the Racers struck again to close out the quarter on a six-yard QB keeper by junior Casey Freeman.
Junior Casey Freeman threw for 184 yards, junior Zach Bergt had three touchdowns, and the Newcastle Racers opened their season in commanding style, burying the Pauls Valley Panthers 42-10 at a packed Racer Stadium Friday, Sept. 6.
On the back of a dominant defensive performance, the Racers (1-0) needed a quarter before their offense really began to fire on all cylinders, head coach Keith Bolles said.
“I thought we started off very slow, but by the second quarter, the offense really got generated,” Bolles said. “I thought we came out of halftime a little flat, we’re going to work on how to finish ballgames, but overall I thought it was a very good first game.”