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Newton Rams' offense shines over Shiloh in spring game
Zion Johnson 2024
Newton running back Zion Johnson is heading into his senior season with the Rams. in 2023, Johnson was named the All-Cov News Offensive Player of the Year. - photo by Garrett Pitts

SNELLVILLE, Ga. — The Newton Rams football team hit the field for the first time this year Thursday, May 16 in a spring game against the Shiloh Generals.

After four quarters, the Rams took home the 30-6 win as head coach Josh Skelton got the chance to see many new faces step up.

“It was fun, we had a good time. It was good to hit on someone other than each other,” Skelton said. “We played well in spurts. I think we were efficient offensively, especially in the second and third series. Defensively, I think coach Hill and the defensive staff did a great job, I couldn’t be more pleased. 

One familiar face that made an impact was starting quarterback Deron Benson, who is gearing up for his junior season.

Benson racked up 268 yards and three touchdowns as he went 16-for-21 on his passes against Shiloh.

After a punt on the opening drive, Benson led the Rams to two touchdowns in the next two series for Newton.

Both touchdowns went into the hands of upcoming senior Andrew Leslie, who joined the Rams in the offseason.

Leslie previously played for Cedar Shoals, who won the 2023 Class AAA Championship. 

Early into his Newton career, Skelton credits Leslie’s maturity as his best attribute.

“The key about him and one of the best things I can say about him is that he has maturity,” Skelton said. “I think he brings a lot of maturity to our team, [he brings] a lot of maturity to our locker room. The way he carries himself. His work ethic on and off the field — he is a great student. Great character kid and I think that translates to the field to help our team. I am very proud of him, and he has a great family that supports him. The results he had tonight are just a little bit of what he is going to do.”

Following the touchdowns from Leslie, Skelton called upon senior defensive lineman Ryshawn Perry on a pair of two-point conversions.

The first attempt saw Perry rush up the middle for the easy score. On the second attempt, Perry faked a rush forward before throwing a lob to fellow lineman, Wayne Patterson, who made a leaping grab.

On Newton’s final drive of the first half, Perry had another rush at the goal line. This time, it resulted in a one-yard touchdown to put the Rams ahead 23-0.

Coming out of halftime, Benson delivered his third touchdown of the game.

The junior took a deep shot that dropped perfectly into the hands of wideout Maliq Brightwell, who Skelton felt made significant strides over the offseason.

“Anybody that saw him last year could see what he was trending towards,” Skelton said. “Tonight is a product of the offseason he had. It has been a great offseason for him — he put on a lot of weight. He got faster, more focused and more intentional about what he is doing. We are proud of him.”

Newton’s defense, which looks to be led by Perry and Zach Harden Jr., held the Generals offense scoreless with the starters on the field.

After the Rams went ahead 30-0, Skelton gave many of his young players time on the field to develop in-game.

“We even got some of the young guys [some] experience,” Skelton said. “Overall we accomplished what we wanted to tonight. We got better tonight.

With spring practices officially over, Skelton already had his mind set on what his team will be doing during the summer immediately following the game.

“It is just a stepping stone for us going into the summer,” Skelton said. “We have a lot of work to do. We got big goals, we are super focused on going forward.”