Longtime Newman football coach Mike Papoccia has a long held the belief that teams make their biggest improvements after the first game of the season.
It's something he hopes holds true for his Comets, who lost to Rockridge 21-9 at Roscoe Eades Stadium on Saturday.
It's something he expects will be true of the Princeton Tigers, who lost 46-0 to Morrison in a game that started on Friday night and was concluded Saturday morning after being delayed by lightning storms. Newman heads to Princeton for a Three Rivers crossover game at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
"We've been getting back to blocking and tackling," Papoccia said after practice on Wednesday. "We didn't do much of either on Saturday.
"Rockridge was a really good team. I thought we handled their offense pretty well. We didn't get burned in the passing game. It was just a couple plays where we didn't execute and we didn't tackle."
The most notable was quarterback Darren Southwell's 38-yard touchdown scamper in the second quarter that put the Rockets up 14-6. Southwell eluded five would-be tacklers on the way to the end zone.
The Comets will have to deal with another quarterback that can throw and move in Princeton's Jacob Reinhardt.
"He looks like a kid that can really throw the ball," Papoccia said. "He can run too, and that's makes him even more dangerous.
"Princeton moved the ball on Morrison pretty well, but when you turn the ball over eight times in 11 drives, or whatever it was, your going to be in trouble. I am sure they've spent the week working on that."
Princeton had 233 yards of offense against the Mustangs, with 108 yards coming on the ground and the other 125 through the air.
The trouble they had was holding onto the ball. Princeton fumbled seven times, losing six. They also threw two interceptions.
"They aren't going to do that again," Papoccia said. "They won't have eight turnovers. We know they are going to be better than what we saw against Morrison. It's our job to be ready." While the Newman offense struggled against the Rockets, they did show an aptitude for throwing the ball.
They put together a well-executed 2-minute drill before half that resulted in a 30-yard field goal by Brandon Ahlgrim.
Catches by Jake Snow and Shayne Allen put them into position. Solid pass protection and consistent throws from quarterback A.J. Sharp continued throughout the game.
"The pass protection was very good for the most part," Papoccia said, "And A.J. delivered the ball well. We have been working on passing in practice every day. We're working with A.J. on going through his reads. While we won't be a throwing team, we want it to be something that teams have to prepare for." Sharp is starting his second season at quarterback for the Comets. He is also a guard on the basketball team. He had 84 passing yards and 18 rushing yards in the opener.