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Racers lose to Noble, 42-21, make strides in second half

The Newcastle football team lost to the Noble Bears, 42-21, last Thursday night at Racer Stadium. While the 0-2 Racers lost again, they certainly showed some spark in the second half against the Bears, a Class 5A power who is now 1-0 on the season.

Last year, the Racers lost to the Bears at Noble, 35-21. The Bears ended up going 10-3 and lost to Bishop Mc-Guiness, 38-10, in the third round of the Class 5A playoffs.

Much is expected this year of Noble, who came out strong and held a huge 42-7 lead over the Racers at halftime. Cade Thompson of the Racers scored the only touchdown with 5:14 left in the first half for Newcastle with an 8-yard pass from Andrew Shumard.

“It was fourth down and we had to go all in or nothing,” Thompson said of his touchdown catch. “We had to convert it. The coaches called a good play for me and gave me the opportunity. I converted and I’m glad I made the most of the opportunity. Although you may not get a lot chances, you need to make the most of them.”

Things certainly changed in the second half. The Bears left their starters in for most of the half. Yet, the Racers still capitalized and actually outscored Noble, 14-0, the rest of the game.

Emmanuel Carter took the ball to the 5-yard line in the fourth quarter. Then, Solomon Granger (on 2nd-and-goal) ran the pigskin in for the score. After a Zack Crook kick, the score was 42-14 with 10:14 left in the fourth. Granger’s score capped an impressive 11-play, 76-yard scoring drive.

With 7:04 left in the fourth, Newcastle’s Wade Sharp intercepted a pass to give the Racers the ball at Noble’s 19. Jake Cox caught an 8-yard pass from Shumard to the Noble 11. Cox then hauled in another Shumard toss for a touchdown. The PAT was good to make the score, 42-21, with 5:30 left.

“We played a really good football team tonight,” Cox said. “We showed up and played. At halftime, we were down and our coaching staff picked us up. They told us we were still in the game and that we could come back. That’s exactly what we did.”

Cox complimented the Bears and their coaching staff. He also complimented his own team’s offensive linemen. He said the Racers will be ready to face Blanchard on Sept. 14 after a bye week.

“They’re a well-coached team and they played a really good game,” Cox said of Noble. “I’ve been working hard at practice. My teammates have been encouraging me. I can’t catch the ball, though, without the linemen blocking for our quarterbacks.

“A big shout out goes to all of our linemen for doing their jobs well. We’ll get better and better from here on out. We have two weeks to prepare for Blanchard. We’ll rest a little over Labor Day weekend but then we’ll come back, work hard, and give it all we’ve got.”

Thompson is looking forward to playing Blanchard. The Lions were 11-2 last year and lost to Heritage Hall, 37-7 in the Class 4A state championship game.

The Lions (1-0) pummeled Elgin, 50-17, last week in their season opener. They feature senior wide receiver Jamie Nance, who has verbally committed to the University of Nebraska.

“We stepped it up in the second half,” Thompson said. “It’s a process. It’s a journey and you have to embrace the journey. We’re not there yet but I think we’ll get there. Blanchard has a very good receiver in Jamie Nance. I think he has committed to Nebraska.

“We’ll have to have a plan for him. He’s a deep threat so we’ll have to keep our guys back and play good defense. We’ll have to have a Thompson said Chase Fox and Shumard are good quarterbacks even though they are just sophomores. Fox has completed 13-of-19 passes for 51 yards while Shumard has completed 22-of-29 for 226 yards. Thompson said the Racers should continue to get better.

“We have young quarterbacks and it’s all about their confidence. Every week we have to allow them to know that we got their backs. I think we did that in the second half. It’s just all about the team. I had a good game - but we all had a good game.”

“In two weeks, we’re all going to have to come together and go to war. I think they both have their good points. It’s about finding what they’re comfortable with and building around that. They’re progressing and you can tell how much they’ve improved from the first day to now. They’re getting better and we all are. We’re just staying positive.”

Newcastle head coach Jeff Brickman seemed pleased with his team’s play in the second half against Noble. He was happy to see his team shutout the Bears’ offense in the second half of play.

“It was about what I anticipated,” Brickman said. “I know that Noble was well-coached and they had a really good football team. It would not surprise me if they played in the state championship this year. They were a semi-final team in Class 5A last year and I think they are a better team this year.

“The kids we have are great kids. They’re also kids who you can tell them the truth a lot and not worry about them not handling it correctly. We’ve told them all along these first three games are going to make us a better football team. We may play a team as talented as Noble. But, there’s definitely nobody more talented than they are.”

Brickman said his club will look back on the Noble game as a stepping stone. The Racers made good strides from the Tuttle game. Now, it’s time to take a week off before playing at Blanchard.

‘When we look back at the end of the season on this game,” Brickman said, “we’re going to realize that it made us a better football team. If we played somebody who wasn’t as good, then we’d never see things we need to work on, our deficiencies and stuff like that. This (Noble) team is going to show us that on film. We outscored them in the second half. A lot of teams might not have tried as hard as we did. But, these kids are mature enough to understand that it’s going to make us better.”

The Newcastle Pacer

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