The Newsome football team had its best season to date, making it to the regional finals for the first time in the school’s history.
The Wolves (7-3) have made huge strides in Christian Yockey’s third season as head coach. His first season at the helm in 2018 was a learning experience as the Wolves finished with a 4-6 record. The team then improved to 8-3 last season, but lost to Steinbrenner 49-20 in their first playoff appearance since 2012.
The 2020 season brought on many challenges for teams in Hillsborough County, and Newsome was no exception. On top of having several games canceled due to a positive COVID-19 test at the beginning of the season and the program having to take a 10-day break from all football activities, the Wolves also had to replace senior leader, quarterback Nicholas Felice, who transferred to Plant City.
Newsome turned to senior quarterback Kamarii Austin, who had transitioned to wide receiver last season. Yockey had high praise for Austin’s leadership, saying that he’s the best leader he’s worked with since former Newsome quarterback Will Worth, who went on to start for the Naval Academy. Austin had a great season, throwing 11 touchdown passes and being selected to Second Team All-Western Conference in the Federal Division.
Yockey and the Wolves came into this season wanting to make some major adjustments. They wanted to become tougher and to be “comfortable with the uncomfortable.” Yockey said that their motto this season was “productive discomfort promotes growth.”
Since halfway through his first season, Yockey has made the practices more competitive and has added more toughness drills, such as one-on-one drills and goal line drills to instill toughness and physicality in his team. The adjustments in mindset and physicality have paid off.
After a 5-3 regular season, the Wolves won their first playoff game in eight years after they defeated Wharton 21-7. In the next round, they not only avenged their 2018 loss to Steinbrenner, they routed the Warriors 37-20 and, in the process, made it to the regional finals for the first time in the school’s history.
“The thing that made me the most proud is seeing our younger guys step up and play at a way higher level than expected, and that we all played a part in making history,” said Austin.
Junior running back Jason Albritton has been a key offensive player for the Wolves for the last three seasons. For the second season in a row, the team captain led them in carries. He also led the team in all-purpose yards (698) and rushing touchdowns (11). Albritton made First Team All-Western Conference in the Federal Division as well.
“The friendship of this team was something I’ve never seen before. We all loved each other and all had the same goal in mind. We worked together well,” said Albritton.
The Wolves lost in the regional finals to state powerhouse Osceola 17-7. The loss left a bad taste in the team’s mouth, and they will use it as motivation during the off-season.
“I know everyone is going into this off-season with a fire inside of themselves to work harder and get better than ever before,” said junior linebacker and Second Team All-Western Conference in the Federal Division selection Caden Huffman. “We are losing some valuable seniors, and the underclassman know they have some big roles to fill. Personally, I will be in the weight room every day, and on the field doing footwork as much as possible. Others are right there with me, preparing to put a whole new level of respect on Newsome’s name.”