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Newton football's offense looking to get back on track coming out of the bye week
NHS Offense
The three offensive leaders for the Newton Rams are Marcus Calwise (left), Riley Scruggs (middle) and Zion Johnson (right). - photo by Anthony Banks

COVINGTON, Ga. — Toward the end of Newton Rams’ Oct. 5 practice, the team scrimmaged against each other as part of Newton’s second bye week of 2022. On one particular drive, Deron Benson found a teammate wide open in the left corner of the practice field end zone. 

While the play unfolded, offensive coordinator Lee Brown was praising his players on their ability to get back on track offensively. Benson’s touchdown throw was just an example to support Brown’s confidence. 

“Going forward, we’ll see what happens. I like our chances, I really do,” Brown said while the ball hung in the air. “Look at that ball. You see that? That’s what I’m saying. Ironically, we have the conversation as we see it happen.” 

Making more plays like Benson’s practice touchdown will be crucial for the Rams as they haven’t scored a single point in the past six quarters. 

In the last game before the break, though, the Rams seemed to solve one of its issues. For the first time all season, Newton had all five players on the offensive line never being substituted out. 

According to Brown, that is huge for the Rams’ offense to assert their identity on offense. 

“We’re going to have to establish that we’re a downhill running team,” Brown said. “We noticed no matter who we played and when we ran that particular scheme, it worked. That’s the building block now.” 

Rushing the ball in that scheme Brown alluded to are the two featured backs. Sophomore Zion Johnson leads all rushers with 483 yards (6.8 yards per carry) and three touchdowns. The second leading rusher is Kweli DeLoach with 217 yards (5.6 yards per carry). 

But the biggest question mark dating back to the offseason has been at the quarterback position. To this point in the season, it has been a rotation between junior Riley Scruggs and freshman Benson. 

Brown definitively said that, starting with the Rams’ Week 9 matchup against Brookwood, rotating the quarterbacks is not the expectation. 

Both gunslingers are completing nearly half of their pass attempts. 

Scruggs, who was deemed the starter before the season commenced, has thrown for 562 yards, six touchdowns and five interceptions. Benson, who didn’t see his first action until Sept. 9 at McEachern, has 141 yards through the air while tossing three touchdowns and three interceptions. 

The biggest concern Brown has about the quarterback situation is decision-making. He even recalled an example from Newton’s game against Grayson. 

“Fourth and six last week, we called a timeout to set the stage,” Brown said. “We had a specific look we wanted and we got it. We had a specific route combo, we got that. 

“What we didn’t get was the decision on where the ball should go.” 

Leading the wide receiver core has been junior Marcus Calwise. Of his 20 receptions this season, seven have been touchdowns while averaging 16 yards per catch. 

Brown said Calwise and Johnson both have a “knack” for scoring touchdowns. As the season progresses, he would like to see more players step up to help put points on the board. 

“God blesses certain guys with the innate ability for scoring touchdowns,” Brown said. “The bottom line is, when I give you the ball, I need some magic to happen.” 

Across the board, though, Brown urges his players to step up on offense and take responsibility for their role in everything they do. 

Not only will the Rams look to end their scoreless streak this week at home against Brookwood, but they’ll also try to end a three-game losing skid.  Brown stressed it’ll be the work of each player to help accomplish both. 

“I want to see accountability to one another, the team and the program,” Brown said. “Then, how well can you be better tomorrow than you were today. And, if you didn’t get better, we have to make a note and that’s when you start working on it.” 

The Rams and Broncos kick off at Sharp Stadium on Friday.