West Hall fans got a sneak peak at the future of their program Friday. They had to like what they saw.
Freshman quarterback Chandler Newton, making his first career start, passed for 294 yards and three touchdowns to lead the host Spartans past Walnut Grove, 48-10 in the Region 8B-AAA opener for both teams.
Newton started in place of normal starting quarterback Shunquez Stephens, who made his mark at wide receiver with five catches for 79 yards and a touchdown.
Newton, son of coach Mike Newton, completed his first five passes and racked up 200 yards in the first half. He finished 17 of 25 with touchdown passes of 15, 11 and 6 yards. He also added a 25-yard touchdown run in a big third quarter for West Hall.
After falling behind 10-7 early in the second quarter, the Spartans (3-2, 1-0) scored 41 straight points, 27 in the decisive third quarter.
Dre Pou scored on runs of 17 and 30 yards and also caught a touchdown pass from Newton. Pou finished with 109 yards on 11 carries.
Newton admitted to being nervous early. He lost a fumble on the Spartans' first possession and threw his only interception of the night later in the quarter. West Hall turned it over three times in the first quarter.
Walnut Grove (0-5, 0-1) took advantage and grabbed a 7-0 lead on Austin Chaplin's 3-yard touchdown run just four minutes into the game.
Tyler Zielenske's 47-yard field goal put the Warriors up 10-7 early in the second quarter, but West Hall responded with consecutive scoring drives to take a 21-10 lead into halftime.
The Spartans put the game away in the third quarter, scoring on four straight drives to take a commanding 48-10 lead into the fourth quarter.
Newton said some advice he got from Stephens helped him overcome his early jitters.
"He told me to ‘do you,'" said Newton. "So I did me."
Stephens, who has started at quarterback for the Spartans last three seasons, hurt his wrist on his throwing hand this week at practice and reinjured it on a catch early in the second quarter. He said he expects to play in next week's game at Johnson, but added that he has confidence in Newton, if he can't go.
Either way, it looks like the Spartans are in good hands this season and in the future.
Walnut Grove, in only its second season, has been outscored 173-38 this season. The Warriors host Monroe Area next week.