After scoring a combined 111 points in just two games to start the season, it’s safe to say Newton’s high-powered offense is going to be tough to stop. It’s also probably safe to say that Newton will live and die on the shoulders – and the legs – of junior quarterback Romario Johnson.
Now, although the Rams’ two impressive wins came against less-than-stellar competition, they were still quality wins, from which you can get an idea of the team you’ll see as the season progresses. The Rams’ schedule only gets tougher from here as they are yet to face powerhouses Lowndes, Tucker, Lovejoy and nearby county-rival Rockdale.
In Friday’s matchup with Meadowcreek, the Rams cruised to a 63-0 victory, scoring 42 points in the first half. Johnson went 11-12 for 342 yards with six total touchdowns. Khamari Robinson had three receptions for 147 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, Jaquan Henderson led the way with eight tackles (three for a loss), three sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
This isn’t the first time Johnson has put on a superb performance in Terrance Banks’s offense. In the Rams’ opener versus Berkmar, Johnson put on a show, accumulating over 400 total yards of offense by himself.
“I think he’s excellent. He had 400 yards of offense by himself, and he played three quarters. The key thing was his receptions were 16 for 23, and he got the ball out of his hands, and he’s getting it to his teammates faster. Which is one of the things that we want him to accomplish,” Banks said last week. “He’s such a good athlete and a dual-threat that whenever he has the ball in his hand anything can happen. I think if he can complete his passes, that will open up the running game, not only for him but for Atrice Hobbs and Kurt Taylor. Because teams can’t say, ‘we can just load up the box on Newton.’”
“Having Ray-J, he understands that he didn’t have to throw the ball 100 yards every play. He got the ball in the hands of his playmakers and he let them do what they do well. Hopefully he will continue that,” Banks said before their game against Meadowcreek.
For coach Banks, the offense is best utilized running more plays than the average high school game. He wants to keep the pace up and get the other team tired.
Banks also wants to utilize the weapons he has at the skill positions in totality, hence the reason for Johnson to get the ball out quickly and to the playmakers. However, Johnson isn’t just a game manager, he’s a playmaker, too, as evidenced by his total yards of offense in which he compounds on the ground and through the air.
Newton’s success is contingent upon how Johnson plays when Newton meets the tougher competition throughout the season. If – and this is a huge if – Johnson can continue to get the ball out quickly at a high completion rate (maybe not as high as it’s been, but in the 60 percent-plus range) and minimize the amount of turnovers the Rams have, Newton could go beyond its goal of playing 12 games (meaning a second round trip in the playoffs) this season.