MAHOMET — After what the Newton High School football team went through earlier this week, playing a Class 4A semifinal football game today at Mahomet-Seymour is a piece of cake.

“When a tornado is only about a mile away from your building and buses loaded with elementary school kids have to be unloaded and calmed down, it puts things in perspective,” said Coach Bob Horst.

The Newton community was hit by a tornado Tuesday afternoon, just about the time school was dismissing for the day and buses loaded with students were sitting in the Newton High School parking lot.

“I can’t say enough about the job our football team did in helping out in that situation,” said Horst. “The kids were just great.”

What with early darkness, bad weather and some wet field conditions, practices for the Eagles have been an adventure this week.

“It has been something of a zoo all week,” said Horst. “But really, you can’t change much at this time of the season. It’s a matter of study and getting ready to play.”

Horst said this 1 p.m. game at Frank Dutton Field will probably be Newton’s toughest game of the playoffs.

“That’s what you would expect,” said the veteran Newton coach. “Afterall, this is the fourth round.”

The winner of this game plays the survivor of the Coal City-Addison Driscoll Catholic semifinal game in the 7 p.m. state championship game next Friday at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.

Horst said M-S will be the most diversified team the Eagles will have played in the post-season.

“Mahomet-Seymour is equally adept at running the football or passing it,” Horst said. “They are very big up front, have some very talented running backs and a solid quarterback.”

Jason Seaman, a 240-pound tight end, is being recruited by several schools in the Big Ten and Big 12 conferences.

Quarterback Joel Gher, a 6-foot-0, 175-pound senior, has completed 54 of 108 passes for 1,153 yards and 11 touchdowns.

The running attack is led by Caleb King, a 5-foot-9, 155-pound senior. He has rolled up 859 yards and 11 touchdowns. He averages 8.2 yards per carry. Brandon Tarter, 5-foot-10, 190-pound senior, has 805 yards and 11 scores while averaging 5.3 yards a carry. Jared Bosch, 6-foot-0, 175-pound senior, has contributed 425 yards and eight scores while Michael Nickrent, 6-foot-0, 165-pound junior,has 395 yards and six touchdowns.

While averaging nearly 37 points a game, the Bulldogs’ trademark is on defense where they have allowed just eight points in three playoff games with back-to-back defense.

“They have a quality nose tackle (Jeremy Ochs, 5-foot-11, 245-pound senior) and just a bunch of big, tough players,” said Horst.

M-S’ problem will be the same that has faced about every Newton rival this season — trying to stop the Eagles’ speed and wide open passing attack.

Jake Semple, the Eagle quarterback, suffered a knee injury in last Saturday’s win over Anna-Jonesboro.

“He’s taken it easy this week, but he’ll be ready to go,” said Horst. “Otherwise, we’re in pretty good shape from an injury standpoint.”

That’s not good news for the Bulldogs will have to try and slow down the Eagles’ passing game.

In fact, the Eagles will regain the services of Jordan Pitcher, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound senior tackle, for this game.

“Jordan hasn’t played a down this year because of an injury but he was released earlier this week, so that could help us in a depth situation,” said Horst.


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