Nicholl commmentary: Phillipsburg's Newlan one of the best
Published on -10/2/2012, 9:04 AM
Phillipsburg High School senior quarterback Sean Newlan is one of the area's all-time great three-sport athletes. Newlan also has a genial, positive personality and is one of my favorite interviews in my five years with the HDN.
Through the first two games, Newlan delivered huge numbers for the Panthers, but has had a difficult time with a high left ankle sprain in Week 2 against Oberlin. Then Newlan had another setback and missed more time.
Overall, Newlan had completed 6 of 7 passes for 256 yards and three touchdowns against no interceptions and rushed 19 times for 194 yards. Still, he has kept his usual positive attitude in the Panthers' 5-0 start and is expected to return for Friday's home game against 1-4 Thomas More Prep-Marian.
"I absolutely love it," Newlan said of watching a Panther team outscore opponents 181-36 and rank among Class 3A's top squads. "It's almost more exciting to be on the sideline, believe it or not, yelling for my team. Riley Juenemann, the junior that stepped up into my shoes, has done a better job than I think I probably could have in some aspects.
"He is such a patient player," Newlan added. "I have learned so much from him. Hopefully, he has been able to learn something from me. It's never easy to sit out and watch your team do stuff that you wish that you could be out there being a part of, but I am so proud of our team, and our coaches have done a good job."
Newlan originally suffered the injury late in the first half versus the Red Devils. At first, Newlan thought he was going to sit out two to three weeks and let the ankle recover.
Then he taped the ankle and was going to try to practice one day. A coach sprayed a non-sticky adhesive under the pre-wrap. Newlan found out he was allergic to a chemical in the pre-wrap.
"I had no clue," he said. "My mom was allergic to it and I guess it was hereditary."
The reaction caused approximately a four-inch blister on Newlan and several other rashes.
"The first couple of days, it was just really red," Newlan said. "It made me worry a little bit. I didn't really put too much thought into it, just because I thought that it was kind of a rash, and hopefully that it would go away. Then, the Smith Center game (in Week 4) was when it really started to get irritated under the boot. When I took the boot off when I got home from Smith Center, there was that blister."
Newlan showed his mom, who is a nurse in Norton. Newlan went to the hospital. He was diagnosed with second-degree burns on virtually his entire foot and higher ankle area. He had to miss another week because of the reactions.
"They gave me some kind of lotion to put on it, and it has really been clearing up and drying out," Newlan said. "I am going to practice (Monday) and just kind of take it light and see how it feels.
"I will play Friday for sure," he added. "It's best to kind of ease into it, though, because I have been off of it for quite some time, and all of those muscles are not strong as they should be. I did some light jogging this weekend and tried to strengthen it up. I will not go full tilt in practice probably until Wednesday."
Newlan has watched the Panthers deliver quality wins against Smith Center, Oakley and Hoisington behind strong offense, defense and special teams. Juenemann has completed 9 of 14 passes for 227 yards with one touchdown against no interceptions. Five players have rushed for at least 156 yards, including 334 on 22 carries from junior Hunter Kohler. Seniors Seth Derr and Tad Thompson had combined for 12 catches for 446 yards and four scores.
Defensively, the Panthers have already forced 15 turnovers, including eight interceptions, four from Thompson. Newlan has especially been impressed with his team's defensive line, a group that averages around 200 pounds. Newlan said the line plays with "such a big mentality," and plays "so physical." Senior Justin Juenemann is arguably the state's best kicker with five field goals.
"Our defense has done a great job, especially up front on the line," Newlan said. "There is not a whole lot that people notice up front with all the activity that goes on in the secondary and stuff. ... But they do a great job of stuffing the run and then the secondary does a great job of covering up the routes and stuff like that. I feel like we have the best secondary in our league and possibly in 3A."
Following this week, Newlan is excited for district play in a tough district that includes 5-0 Beloit and 4-1 Norton. Norton is a longtime rival with a strong offense led by the short passing game of senior quarterback Dalton Miller and senior running back Jacob Brooks.
Newlan said the Panthers are especially excited for Beloit in Week 7. Last year, Beloit defeated Phillipsburg, 48-7 in the playoffs. That is the Panthers' only loss in its last 15 games.
"They are awesome again this year," Newlan said. "I think that it will be a very physical game and very, very fun to play in."
Newlan also has considered his future and has several options on the table.
He has received scholarships offers from Butler County Community College and Pittsburg State University and several schools have contacted him. Newlan thinks that if he goes the route of Division I, then he will have to choose a sport -- either football or track, where he has won four state titles. If Newlan did track in college, being a decathlete is an option.
If Newlan goes to a Division II school, then he can likely play both football and track. University of Nebraska-Kearney wants him to play quarterback and PSU wants him in the secondary as a safety. Newlan said Fort Hays State University has not contacted him, but he said the Tigers don't normally start recruiting in their area until later in the season. Newlan said he "would definitely be interested in Hays," because of the location and having plenty of friends already at the school.
"I would like to play football more than I would like to participate in track," Newlan said. "I have always said that I am a football/track athlete, not a track/football athlete. ... I have always loved football. I was in the backyard playing catch with my dad before I could even walk on my own two feet. We always set up pillows and stuff in the living room. At age two, I was running through my dad's pillows trying to get to the end zone during the Kansas City Chiefs' football game. It's something that we have always loved."