by: Alex Langan
The Grady offense has been one of the leading forces behind the success of the Grey Knights, and this is due largely to the record shattering seasons by senior quarterback Caylin Newton and senior wide receiver Jacquez Sloan.
Newton, who amassed 2862 passing yards in the regular season, became the first Grady quarterback to ever throw for 3000 yards in a single season with his 226-yard, three-touchdown passing performance in the first round playoff matchup against Walnut Grove on Nov. 11, a 42-8 win for Grady. Grady scored two touchdowns on bubble screens.
“Felt easy, all I had to do was throw a bubble screen,” Newton said. “I’m just throwing the ball five yards, anybody can do that. My grandma is 80 years old, and she could have thrown it. She could’ve broke the record if all you’ve gotta do is throw it five yards.”
The three-year starter is in the middle of the one of the most elite seasons in the whole state, as he completed has 67 percent of his passes with 10.8 yards per attempt and 32 touchdowns, all with only six interceptions. He now ranks second in Class 5A and fifth in the state for passing yards at 3066. Newton has also excelled on the ground, with 904 rushing yards, on 9.7 yards per carry on his way to 12 rushing touchdowns.
Newton, who came into the season with a chip on his shoulder after an injury-plagued junior season, has received scholarship offers from Hampton, Kentucky Christian, Savannah State and Howard, thanks in part to his record-breaking play. The quarterback also made history this year as he became part of the fifth pair of brothers to ever receive recognition from the Touchdown Club of Atlanta, as his older brother, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton also was honored in 2006.
One of Newton’s favorite targets is the speedy receiver Sloan, whose 59 receptions for 1181 yards, an average of 20 yards per catch, and 12 touchdowns during the regular season leads Class 5A and ranks fifth in the state in receiving yards. One of the highlights of the season for Sloan was his season-long, 80-yard catch on a fly pattern that gave Grady the lead late in the game against Riverwood. His three-touchdown performance, which included two receiving touchdowns and an 89-yard kickoff returned to the house, on his way to 126 yards receiving against Walnut Grove helped spark the Knights to their dominating playoff victory.
“Feels amazing, felt great,” Sloan said. “We’re just taking it week by week. Hopefully, in the second round we can do what we did this week, and make it all the way to the Dome.”