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Racers beat Clinton, 28-21; Newcastle at Anadarko next

The Newcastle Racers’ football team continued its impressive uprising from the deep with another surprising victory last Thursday at Racer Stadium – this time with a solid 28-21 victory over the heralded Clinton Red Tornadoes.

Clinton is the winningest football program in Oklahoma state history with 596 victories. The Red Tornadoes have won 16 total state championships in their history. They beat Newcastle handily just a year ago at Clinton, 53-13.

But, the Racers this year are a new team and they showed as much last Thursday. Things got off to an auspicious start for Newcastle at the very beginning as senior Jake Cox took the opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. After Zach Crook kicked the PAT, it was Newcastle, 7-0, with 11:27 left in the first quarter.

Newcastle struck again with 1:07 left in the first quarter. On a 2nd and 10 play, Racer quarterback Andrew Shumard found tight end Jason Wilson open for a 23-yard scoring pass. Crook’s kick was good again and it gave Newcastle a 14-0 lead over the Red Tornadoes.

Clinton finally answered, though. With 11:52 left before halftime, running back Atrel Bryson finished off Clinton’s 58-yard drive with a nice 37-yard touchdown run. The kick was good but Newcastle still led, 14-7.

Shumard found Cox for a scintillating 66-yard touchdown pass-and-catch with 10:54 to go in the second quarter. The kick from Crook was good to complete an 80-yard, three-play drive to make the score 21-7 in favor of Newcastle going into halftime.

Clinton quarterback Ca-den Powell punched the ball in from two yards out with 7:03 left in the third quarter. The kick was good as the Red Tornadoes closed the gap to 21-14.

Newcastle upped the score to 28-14 with 6:44 left in the fourth quarter. Shumard found Cox again for an impressive 78-yard touchdown pass and the kick was good from Crook. Clinton intercepted a Shumard pass at their 18-yard line with 2:43 to go in the game.

Then, the Red Tornadoes made Newcastle fans nervous on the next play. They scored on an 82-yard pass play to bring the score to 28-21 with 2:27 left in the game.

The Racers, though, sewed things up after recovering an onside kick at the Newcastle 43-yard line. Kruz Vargas was able to run the ball a couple of times up the gut to wind down the clock until the closing tick.

“You hit the nail on the head when you mention that they are such a great program,” Newcastle head coach Jeff Brickman said. “We have so much respect for them. All of the things that they’ve done over the years is very impressive. They came in with a very good football team. They are well coached.”

Brickman has noticed a marked difference in this year’s Newcastle squad – his third.

“There’s something about our team that they buy into our work ethic,” Brickman said. “They’ve been working hard. Sometimes, it’s hard for young people to see that your efforts aren’t always immediately awarded. It takes a while sometimes. I think it’s a great testament to our players that they understand that now.

“I’m just really proud of our players and our coaches. We have the utmost respect for Clinton and wish them the best of luck throughout the rest of this season. After all, after we beat them, we need them to beat other people, too. That’s what we’re hoping for in order to make the state playoffs.”

According the pre-season rankings in The Oklahoman, Clinton was ranked No. 5 while Newcastle was unranked. Now, the Red Tornadoes have dropped to No. 8 in this week’s rankings while the Racers have made the poll for the first time in several years at No. 10.

“It will be something different for oud kids now to have a target on their backs,” Brickman said. “We’ve beaten two good teams in a row in Blanchard (37-14 last week) and Clinton. I’m not boasting but I’ve coached teams that have gone deep into the postseason before.

“But, our coaching staff will be ready for it. We just need to teach what we’ve learned to our kids. Our schedule is difficult. The rest of the way? There’s not anyone who can’t beat us. Then again, there’s not anyone who we can’t beat, either. I think we’ve proven that the last two weeks.”

Shumard had an awesome game and continues to come into his own as the quarterback.

“We played really well,” Shumard said. “We had a good week of practice. Our receivers and our offensive line made my job a lot easier. Sometimes the other team blitzes and our plays break down. You have to scramble around to try and make something out of nothing. That’s just a part of being a quarterback. You have to be able to do that.”

Shumard had to battle Chase Fox last year for starting time. But, since Fox left the program, Shumard has shown he is the man behind the center for the Racers.

“Last year, I knew that we were a young team but that’s no excuse,” Shumard said. “(The quarterback battle last year) just brought a lot of confidence into this year for me. We have a lot more rhythm this year on offense and we’re able to get things flowing. We have to stay humble. It doesn’t mean anything what we did this week. Next week is a new deal for us and we have to play well again.”

For the second straight week, a Newcastle player scored three touchdowns. Against Blanchard, it was Teagun Jordan with two kickoff returns and a touchdown reception. Against Clinton, it was Cox with one kickoff return for pay dirt plus two more TDs on spectacular long catches.

“I can’t give any credit toward myself,” Cox said. “It’s all for God. Everything that He has blessed me with – my speed, my quarterback throwing me the ball, everything - I give it all to Him. We worked on special teams so much. Our linemen setting the middle wedge so I can get up in there for the return plus their blocking for my passes was awesome. Coach Brickman and the staff were calling great plays. Everything fit together for us tonight. That’s a God thing! I can’t give any credit except to God.”

Cox was quick to credit Brickman and the entire coaching staff with the victory and getting the Racers ready to play.

“Clinton is really good,” Cox said. “They are a very well-coached team. All of their players played hard and aggressive. They fought back at the very end. It was a very close game but we put a hard week of practice in to get ready for them. Again, it’s a God thing.

“Coach Brickman preaches to us all the time about that and you can’t deny that. We have Anadarko coming up so it will be another big game for us there. They’re well-coached and they beat us last year. It should be a good game and I’m just excited for (this) week.”

The Newcastle Racers will play the Anadarko Warriors at 7 p.m. this Friday at Anadarko. The Warriors defeated Newcastle, 26-14, last season at Racer Stadium. The Racers are 3-7 all-time against Anadarko.

Anadarko (2-2) has beaten Lexington (28-7) and Harrah (38-7) this year so far. The Warriors have lost to Cache (43-14) and Blanchard (13-0). Anadarko was ranked No. 12 in the pre-season by The Oklahoman. The Warriors had a 6-5 record a year ago, losing to the eventual Class 4A state champion Tuttle Tigers, 31-0, in the first round of the playoffs.

The Newcastle Pacer

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