Newton got some of its mojo back Friday night in a pretty convincing 41-21 win over a solid Class AAAAA Arabia Mountain program. Sports editor Gabriel Stovall shares his observations about Newton’s impressive performance coming off a bye week.
1. Naming a full-time starting quarterback matters. During Wednesday’s practice, Newton head coach Terrance Banks said that he knew what he wanted to do regarding his two-man quarterback race, but wasn’t ready to share it. We found out Friday night as senior LT Stowers trotted out for the first series of the game, and stayed in throughout, and what a difference it made, starting with the Rams’ first series of the game. It was a 77-yard scoring drive that took all of 47 seconds. The pace looked good. His throws were crisp. It looked as if Newton had been working on the execution of that specific play during the entire bye week and preparation week. And beyond that, Newton’s offense looked much crisper as a whole and had much more rhythm. And no matter what people may say, much of that starts with consistent quarterback play which starts with having one consistent quarterback.
2. LT Stowers has a big league arm. Speaking of quarterback play and Stowers, his arm strength is next level. His deep ball is a thing of beauty, and sometimes he found himself needing to reel back the power a bit as he overthrew a receiver a time or two. When you have a quarterback who can make virtually whatever kind of throw you want, and you have big play guys on the outside like Robert Lewis and Mike Mathison, your offense as the lethal potential.
3. Robert Lewis is approaching his stride as a player. Assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Josh Skelton said he watched Robert Lewis take things up a notch after the Eastside loss. You could see it bare out in the way he played Friday. He had the long touchdown pass, but also barely missed on a couple of others where his crisp route running got him open but the passes to him were just out of reach. Lewis also made a real nifty diving grab for a 13 yard pickup right before the end of the first half. Each week it seems like he’s showing off a new aspect to his arsenal.
4. Arabia Mountain has two guys who can sling it. Coming in, we new about senior quarterback Bryson Williams who has a handful of Division I offers. But for a couple of series, 6-foot-4 junior Myles Crawley entered the game, and actually led Arabia Mountain to one of its touchdown drives. He rifled a 60-yard pass to Matthew Crawford and then displayed impeccable touch to Khalil Roach on a 30-yard fade route to the end zone. So whatever happens for the Arabia Mountain Rams, it looks like they’re set at signal caller for the next couple of years.
5. When Newton plays clean it can compete with anyone. The team Newton played is not a pushover squad. It’s a solid Class AAAAA competitor and has played and beat some solid competition over the last two years especially. But Newton, at times, made things look easy. And part of that is because not only did it execute offensively and swallow up any thoughts of an Arabia run game on defense, but it played a cleaner game. No turnovers and just a handful of penalties, none coming at crucial times. It also forced three turnovers and turned two of them into scores. If this Newton team shows up week in and week out, it will be a hard out for anybody — yes, even the Graysons and Archers of the world.