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PREP FOOTBALL: Rams feature new faces in spring game
NHS Spring
​​Newton Rams junior quarterback Riley Scruggs takes a shot to junior Marcus Calwise in the corner of the endzone during a spring game Saturday, May 21, against Dutchtown. - photo by Garrett Pitts

HAMPTON, Ga. — The Newton Rams football team continued its preparation for a new season with a spring matchup Saturday night against the Dutchtown Bulldogs.

Following a rare, down year for the Rams, there were many questions to be answered as they prepare for the new season with fresh faces.

With the departure of former quarterback Jevarra Martin Jr., head coach Camiel Grant is keeping his options open as he looks for the right guy to lead the offense.

Grant split playing time at quarterback between juniors Riley Scruggs and Marcus Calwise.

“[We want someone who] can take command of the offense and elevate the play of those around him,” Grant said. “[We need] the simple things, like making the routine plays and playing within the concept of our scheme.”

Scruggs spent most of last season serving as the backup quarterback for the Rams, while Calwise played a bigger role as one of Grant’s top wide receivers.

Both juniors alternated playing time on each drive to open the game, but Calwise got the start to begin the game. 

With heavy pressure from the Dutchtown front seven, Calwise made a throw over the middle that was intercepted by the Bulldogs to give them the ball at midfield.

On the next Rams drive, Scruggs led the offense down the field and made key throws on third and fourth down to move Newton to the goal line.

Even though the drive started off promising, the Rams could not convert at the goal line and turned the ball over on downs on Scruggs’ quarterback keeper that came up two yards short of the touchdown.

As the offense had a hard time getting into a rhythm, the Rams’ defense looked to already be in midseason form.

With the return of senior Justin Benton, who dominated for the Rams in his freshman and sophomore seasons, the front seven for Newton returns a lot of talent heading into the 2022 season as they still have seniors Anthony Bynum and Olan Robinson.

All three seniors made plays on Saturday night as they played sideline-to-sideline and continuously put pressure on the Dutchtown offense.

“The defense is doing a great job. Coach [Josh] Skelton has stepped into the role as defensive coordinator and he had a lot of fun tonight,” Grant said. “He is getting a lot of guys on the field and giving the guys a lot of experience. They are doing exactly what our defense has always done.”

The majority of the second half was played by newcomers of the Newton football program, which allowed them to get playing time and give coaches an idea of what is to come.

The only score of the game came in the third quarter, as the Bulldogs jumped the route and took their second interception to the end zone for a 30-yard pick six.

After the missed extra point, the 6-0 Dutchtown lead lasted until the end of regulation.

Following the game, Grant was happy with the effort and planning on the Rams’ side and knows exactly what he wants to see as the team heads into summer.

“[We want to see] focus, let’s not doing anything that is going to put the team in jeopardy,” Grant said. “The mission is simple; we want to get better every day and we will figure where we are when we get there. If we work on getting better each day, then we will be exactly where we want to be.”