By Jeff Nations
FRONT ROYAL -- Say this about Warren County High School senior Josh Newman -- he's never been one to dilly-dally.
This, after all, is the same person who as a sophomore once recorded a pin during wrestling season in just 10 seconds.
Newman approaches his work as a defensive lineman/running back for the Wildcats in much the same way. Newman's motor is super-charged, and that's just the way Warren County football coach Tony Tallent wants it.
"Just high intensity -- his motor is one of those that just runs at a 100 miles an hour," Tallent said. "He's a kid that really wants it, and you can see it in his play."
The Wildcats have long known about that high-intensity style, and have harnessed it in every way possible on both sides of the ball.
Newman said he prefers defense -- no surprise there -- and is constantly shifting up and down the defensive line. Sometimes he's an end, sometimes a tackle, other times he slides into a linebacker slot. Newman takes pride in his versatility, all the more impressive considering he's not really close to his listed weight of 190 pounds -- he plans to wrestle at 160 in the winter, just like last year.
"It's so funny seeing him -- he's like the littlest guy on the field most of the time, but when he fires off the ball and gets that sack it just pumps the whole defense up," Wildcats teammate Jontae Rollins said. "It just gives us so much more fire. When he blows past people, it's just crazy seeing him with so much fire. He just brings inspiration, seeing that he can do it and doing it so easily sometimes, it just blows your mind."
Newman, who shares co-captain roles with Demetrus Yates, has been a leading playmaker on a defense full of them this season. Newman tied teammate Blake Steele for the team lead during the regular season with 9.5 sacks. He also forced three fumbles and recovered two while recording 57 tackles.
"I feel like defense is what wins games," Newman said. "If you can move the ball or you can control the ball on offense, that's good. But if you can't stop a team from controlling the ball or can't stop that team from implementing their game plan, then they're going to have the momentum."
Newman was at his best during a key regular-season game against Strasburg, breaking through for three sacks and added a decisive 9-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to help his team to a 28-20 victory.
"I'm supposed to do that stuff," Newman said. "In that game, I put it all together."
Tallent said the goal is to find the right matchup for Newman, and then simply turn him loose against opposing defenses. So far, that's worked pretty well for Warren County (8-3). The Wildcats won last week's first-round playoff game as the No. 8 seed against No. 9 Park View (South Hill) by a decisive 35-23 margin. That sets up a second-round game against top-seeded Lafayette on Friday night in Williamsburg, another chance for Newman to do what he does best.
"We look at things that he does, and put him against people that maybe don't do things well," Tallent said. "We want to make sure that we never put him in a situation where we're asking something that's not plausible for him. We're not expecting him to stand up and knock over a 330-pound tackle. We're asking him to create some havoc, and that's what he's pretty good at."
Newman also forms part of a three-headed ground game for Warren County. Newman describes Yates as the speedster and Kris Deal as a smooth, almost gliding type back. As for himself, you can probably guess.
"We bring a lot of different stuff to the table, us three," Newman said. "I'm a downhill runner. I get from A to B. I don't really take shortcuts, I'm pretty straight up. If you watch my highlights, I take one or two cuts and then I'm either in the end zone or getting tackled."
During the regular season, Newman rushed for 397 yards (7.2 yards per carry) and five touchdowns for the Wildcats.
"He can be explosive -- there's been times when he's ripped off some pretty good runs," Tallent said. "He runs like he plays defense -- wide open."
Newman's school pride is evident when he talks about Warren County, and he's happy to be a part of another success for the Wildcats.
"Our school's putting up all over the board, from cross country to theater -- I mean, we went to states last year in theater," Newman said. "Wrestling's always been consistently good, football's coming into its own -- we're a good school, that's what we are."
Wrestling season is still on Newman's mind -- last year he went 20-4 as a 160-pounder before injuring an ankle -- but that will simply have to wait for now. His focus is solely on the football field.
"I spent five years of my life working for this football team, so what's going on right now is what I've been striving for," Newman said. "But also, I love wrestling, so I want to get back out on the mat.
"You can't really get ready for wrestling without wrestling, but it's definitely in the back of my mind. The team needs me, but football needs me here, too."
Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org>