The Newsome football team after clinching a playoff berth.

The Newsome football program reached the playoffs for the first time since 2012. The Wolves lost in the first round of regionals to a tough Steinbrenner team, but they improved on last season’s 4-6 record, finishing 8-3 in the 2019 campaign.

Head Coach C.J. Yockey has quickly turned this program around in just two seasons. He replaced 12-year Head Coach Ken Hiscock in December of 2017. They had one of the tougher schedules in Hillsborough County, facing four playoff teams.

Yockey gives a lot of credit to his senior class of 17 players for leading the way.

“They set the tone for the year with their leadership and toughness,” said Yockey. “It was just cool to see a small group of kids take on the role of the leaders of the team, and we just kind of rode them.”

In recent years, Newsome has been known as more of a run-heavy offense. Under junior quarterback Nick Felice, they became a greater threat through the air, giving them the balance they needed to be successful. Felice completed 52 passes for 844 total yards with 10 touchdown passes and only five interceptions.

The Wolves lost their first game to Bloomingdale 28-13, but then proceeded to win seven in a row and eight of nine, dominating their opponents in the process. They accomplished these feats while not having a bye week to rest during the regular season.

They had to play 10 games in the 10-week season. The Wolves set school records for single-season rushing yards and total offensive yards gained. They also came within one game of winning the district championship.

Second Team All-Western Conference selection senior Landon White and sophomore First Team All-Western Conference selection Jason Albritton led the Newsome rushing attack. Albritton led the team in carries with 184 for 1,464 yards and an impressive team-leading 14 touchdowns. White added 90 carries for 746 yards and 11 touchdowns.

“Our goal this year was to be a playoff team and we accomplished that, so next year our goal would be to win the district title and win a playoff game,” said Yockey.

The Wolves’ offensive line was a major asset to setting those school records. Offensive lineman senior Kyle Hoerner and junior Thomas Heeps were voted First Team All-Western Conference, and senior Matt Rainey has started every game for the last three years.

Other Newsome All-Western Conference selections were Kyle Sellers (second team), Deandre Perez (second team), Brendan Gann (first team), Caden Huffman (first team), Kevin Osborn (second team), Devan Belcher (second team) and punter Ryan Eckley (first team).

Yockey is already looking forward to next season. The team will take two months off and get back together at the end of January for off-season workouts.

“We’re going to use the playoff loss to motivate us this off-season to kind of show the kids what level we have to get to in order to move on in the playoffs,” said Yockey. “That’s going to be our focus going into next August.”

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Nick Nahas
Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.