Newberry offense shines in spring game

Newberry's Kaleb Williams reaches his hand over the goal line for a first quarter touchdown against Gainesville on Friday.
Photo by C.J. Gish

It didn’t take long to get a glimpse of what we might see in the fall from the Newberry football team, which only graduated four seniors from last year’s Class 1R playoff team.

Rising sophomore quarterback Keil McGriff threw a 43-yard pass to sophomore Ty Moses on the first play of the game.

However, mistakes cost the Panthers in the first half as they took just a 10-7 lead into the locker room, but finished the spring game with a 24-7 win against the Class 3S Hurricanes at Citizens Field on Friday night.

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“Keil and Ty they had a really good connection early on in the spring,” said Newberry coach Ed Johnson. “Ty has dealt with some injuries, some nagging injuries over the last week, but it was nice to see him get back on the field and make some plays. He’s a young guy we’re excited about in the fall.”

Photo by C.J. Gish Newberry's Ty Moses celebrates after a first quarter catch against Gainesville on Friday.

The game marked the debut of new GHS football coach Ian Scott, who was optimistic after the game.

“Early on we didn’t get lined up right,” Scott said. “I was a little disappointed with that, still first game jitters, giving up a big play on the first one just because we’re not lined up right, but our guys settled in and they competed. We’ve got one team that’s been together for a long time versus a team that’s been together for two weeks and we only gave up 10 points in the first half.”

After Zane Spires missed a 38-yard field goal on the Panthers’ opening drive, McGriff and Moses connected again on a 38-yard pass play from the GHS 46-yard line down to the Hurricanes’ 8-yard line.

Kaleb Woods, who rushed for almost 100 yards per game last year as a freshman, ran seven yards down to the 1-yard line and then punched it in on the next play as Newberry took a 7-0 lead with 3:56 to play in the first quarter.

He had a 17-yard run to start the 63-yard drive.

“Kaleb played well,” Johnson said. “He’s another guy who has been battling some injuries all spring. Kaleb is a beast. He’s a big, strong kid. He’s going to be a big part of what we’re doing next year.”

McGriff, who had 194 yards passing at the half, threw a 40-yard pass to Moses on the Panthers’ third offensive possession.

However, a 6-yard touchdown pass to Logan McCloud and a 9-yard scoring run by McGriff were both nullified by penalty, leading to a 29-yard field goal by Spires for a 10-0 lead with 8:48 to play in the half.

The Hurricanes struggled offensively in the first quarter but used only four plays to march 92 yards for their only score.

Tommy Coyne, who was a freshman this past season for the Hurricanes, completed a 41-yard pass to Eli Williams down the right sideline, followed by a 28-yard pass to Matt Williams.

Coyne ended the drive with a 26-yard scoring pass to Matt Williams with 1:08 to play in the half.

“He did a great job coming in,” Scott said. “Matt (Williams) went down early. Tommy came in and had to play the rest of the game. He’s the only other guy that we’ve got. He commanded the offense well and I was excited to see how he played today.”

Defensively, Newberry’s Mykah Newton had 1.5 sacks, while GHS got first half sacks from Taylor Brewer and rising senior Josh Morison.

The second half featured a running clock.

Rising senior running back Chaden Scott scored on a 2-yard run with 3:41 to play in the 3rd quarter. Scott had big play runs of 19, 34, 22, and 12 yards on the 75-yard drive.

“Chaden is a kid that battled injures last year and couldn’t really get going but we see flashes of it in practice all the time,” Johnson said. “He’s a hard worker. He’s one of the hardest working kids in the program. To see him have some success tonight was fun for him and hopefully it will boost him going into his senior year.”

Backup quarterback Kobe Johnson, who will be a sophomore in the fall, finished off the scoring with a 9-yard touchdown run to give Newberry a 24-7 with just over three minutes remaining in the game.

Newberry is finished with its spring but GHS still has one more week.

“We’re excited about the team that we have,” Scott said. “We needed to get out and play a real game to see who could play, coaches and how we communicate with each other on the sideline, I need practice at being a head coach and managing the game so all of that stuff was good and looking forward to the team that we’ve got.”

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