Tyler Newsom’s first starting experiences as a varsity quarterback weren’t all that pleasant.
As a sophomore in 2010, he replaced Erik McKillip in the second-to-last regular season game against Camanche and passed for 173 yards and two touchdowns. That prompted coach Ben Slife to start Newsom in the finale against top-ranked and eventual state champion Regina.
“We were having trouble running the ball (against Camanche),” Newsom said. “They asked me if I could go in there and see what I could do. After that, (Slife) liked that I could move the ball.”
Not so much against the Regals and first-round playoff opponent Sigourney-Keota. The Comets lost by scores of 41-0 and 35-0 to end the season.
“Oh man, that was pretty scary, going against Regina,” Newsom said. “Obviously, they have a lot of talent and a lot of big guys. And Sigourney, they were ranked top-five in the state. My coaches told me to be calm and do what I could.”
Although it may not have been pleasant, the trial by fire set the stage for a stellar junior year. Newsom was third in Class 2A District 5 with 1,137 passing yards and 12 touchdowns. He also rushed for 138 yards and seven touchdowns.
That’s put him at the center of the West Liberty offense this year.
“He’s going to be the focal point of what we do,” Slife said. “He’s gotten comfortable with calling plays, and he knows what plays I call. He’s a coach on the field, essentially. His football IQ is tremendous.”
But with his senior status comes new challenges. Newsom was comfortable letting last year’s seniors assert themselves.
“I don’t really like telling people what to do,” he said. “I don’t like using my voice and being vocal. I just don’t think I’m that kind of a guy. I like to be laid back.
“(But) we really haven’t had to tell people what to do on our team. The juniors like to get stuff done without the coaches having to tell them what to do.”
Newsom’s numbers also got him noticed. He was invited by Rivals scouting service to the Midwest Elite Football Camp this summer in Detroit. Linebacker Nick Boehme and lineman Juan Martinez also made the trip.
“That was a pretty good experience, going against the top guys in the nation,” Newsom said. “There were only 25 quarterbacks, and it was good knowing where you’re at compared to everybody else. As soon as we got there, we saw this huge guy, and we were like, ‘All right, we’re going to have our work cut out for us.'”
Newsom said 25 to 30 Division II coaches, and a few more Division I coaches were scouting at the camp. But he’s not sure what his future holds.
“My coach has been telling me if I want to play at the next level, that’s something I could do, but I don’t really know what I want to do,” he said. “I’ll just see how the season goes.”