Rams live and die with John­son

The Covington News - - SPORTS - SHA­KEEM HOL­LOWAY shol­loway@cov­news.com

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 lessthan-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.

An­thony Banks/The Cov­ing­ton News

Ro­mario John­son races down the side­line to score one of his many touch­downs against Berk­mar.

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