Liberty’s Newman named Player of Year on R-J’s all-state football team

Liberty football coach Rich Muraco entered the season unsure of his team’s offensive identity.

The Patriots had lost their all-time leading rusher Niko Kapeli and quarterback Kai Nacua, a three-year starter, to graduation.

Senior Tyler Newman quickly established Liberty as a passing team.

The Patriots moved away from a run-heavy offense and became the state’s top passing attack. Newman was dominant, passing for 3,988 yards and 42 touchdowns in leading the Patriots to a 10-4 record. For his efforts, the Review-Journal selected Newman as the state’s Player of the Year to highlight the all-state team.

“We weren’t 100 percent sure what direction our offense was going to go in,” Muraco said.

“As the season got going, Tyler just made all the right plays and the kids kind of rallied around him, and we were able to open up our playbook more because of him. It was fun as a coach to open up the offense and get more people involved.”

Newman’s shining moment came Oct. 11 when he matched a state record with nine passing touchdowns against Del Sol. He completed 19 of 22 passes for 496 yards in that game.

Newman had seen plenty of playing time as a junior, but spent more time at receiver than quarterback. He had battled Nacua for the quarterback job in that offseason, but gladly made the position switch when Nacua won the starting role.

“When it was clear he was going to be the backup, instead of pouting, he just decided ‘I’m a good athlete and I need to be on the field, whatever it takes,’” Muraco said. “If he dedicated himself to being a wide receiver, he’d be able to be on the field. As a coach, you want your best athletes on the field. And he did a good job for us.”

Muraco said Newman’s positive outlook when he was forced to play receiver went a long way with his teammates.

“He wanted to be the starting quarterback, but he understood his role on the team,” Muraco said. “I think he earned a lot of respect with his attitude of ‘just let me get on the field and play.’”

Once Nacua graduated, Newman wasted no time taking over as the team’s leader.

“He was able to get the young receivers and those guys worked hours outside of the normal practice time developing some chemistry with the throws,” Muraco said. “It paid off when the season came around, putting the ball in a tight spot, and he had the confidence that Drew (Hladek) or Deseon (McQuaig) were going to make plays.”

Hladek had only 16 catches as a junior and McQuaig hadn’t caught a pass for Liberty before this season. But with Newman slinging the ball, both shined. McQuaig caught 56 passes for 1,084 yards and 13 touchdowns in earning first-team all-state honors. Hladek had 58 catches for 911 yards and nine TDs.

Newman didn’t just focus on those two. Three other receivers had more than 20 catches.

“Most importantly is his intelligence and ability to make quick decisions,” Muraco said. “And he’s a good decision maker. Very rarely does he throw a bad pick. And on top of that, he’s deceptively elusive.”

While Newman didn’t match the area’s top running quarterbacks like Bishop Gorman’s Randall Cunningham or Basic’s Antraye Johnson, he did plenty of damage with his feet. Newman finished with 511 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.

“Maybe just looking at him, you wouldn’t realize how good an athlete he is,” Muraco said of the 5-foot-11-inch, 190-pound Newman. “He really is a great basketball player and the baseball coach is trying to get him to come out and pitch. Really, whatever sport he wants to play, he’s good at.”

Contact reporter Damon Seiters at 702-380-4587 or Follow @DamonSeiters on Twitter.




QB, Randall Cunningham, Gorman 6-5 184 Sr. 1,773 passing yards, 16 TDs, 8 INT; 1,425 rushing yards, 14 TDs

QB, Tyler Newman, Liberty 5-11 190 Sr. 3,988 passing yards, 42 TDs, 14 INT; 511 rushing yards, 9 TDs

RB, Jordan DeLeon, Reed 5-11 217 Sr. 1,794 rushing yards, 33 TDs

RB, Ty Flanagan, Mojave 5-10 190 Jr. 1,213 rushing yards, 15 TDs

RB, Jocquez Kalili, Desert Oasis 6-0 180 Sr. 1,633 rushing yards, 23 TDs

RB, Andrew Moreland, Las Vegas 5-8 154 Sr. 1,401 rushing yards, 17 TDs; 32 rec., 449 yards, 4 TDs

WR, Deseon McQuaig, Liberty 6-0 185 Sr. 56 rec., 1,084 yards, 13 TDs

WR, Gehrig Parks, Spanish Springs 5-11 185 Sr. 83 rec., 1,118 yards, 10 TDs

WR, Trae Wells, Reed 6-1 185 Sr. 76 rec., 1,266 yards, 20 TDs

WR, Aaron Zanin-Banks, Las Vegas 5-11 168 Sr. 72 rec., 1,159 yards, 15 TDs

TE, Alize Jones, Gorman 6-4 218 Jr. 35 rec., 571 yards, 10 TDs

ATH, Antraye Johnson, Basic 5-10 175 Sr. 1,676 passing yards, 11 TDs, 7 INT; 1,205 rushing yards, 13 TDs; 3 return TDs

OL, Cody Carr, Reed 6-2 310 Jr. First Team All-Northern Region

OL, Tyrell Crosby, Green Valley 6-7 295 Sr. First Team All-Northeast League

OL, Nick Gates, Gorman 6-4 272 Sr. First Team All-Southwest League

OL, Mat McDermand, Moapa Valley 6-6 260 Sr. Division I-A State Lineman of the Year

OL, Zack Singer, Gorman 6-3 292 Sr. First Team All-Southwest League

K, Conor Perkins, Green Valley 5-10 170 Sr. 8-12 FG, 2 game-winning FGs, 56-63 PATs

KR, Daniel Stewart, Gorman 5-9 173 Sr. 3 KO return TDs


QB, Hunter Fralick, Spanish Springs 6-3 200 Sr. 2,489 passing yards, 14 TDs, 5 INT; 1,222 rushing yards, 19 TDs

QB, Christian Lopez, Green Valley 6-0 185 Jr. 3,455 passing yards, 34 TDs, 13 INT; 231 rushing yards, 10 TDs

RB, Ben Barnard, Galena 5-10 180 Sr. 1,736 rushing yards, 20 TDs

RB, Casey Hughes, Legacy 6-2 190 Sr. 1,034 rushing yards, 14 TDs

RB, Zaviontay Stevenson, Canyon Springs 5-9 165 Jr. 1,203 rushing yards, 10 TDs

RB, Lucas Weber, McQueen 6-2 193 Sr. 1,507 rushing yards, 15 TDs

WR, Chaz Clark, Galena 6-3 180 Sr. 53 rec., 1,047 yards, 9 TDs

WR, Vinny DeGeorge, Faith Lutheran 5-10 165 Sr. 36 rec., 971 yards, 10 TDs

WR, DeVonte Milligan, Virgin Valley 6-4 180 Sr. 48 rec., 1,011 yards, 9 TDs

WR, David Persi, Foothill 5-7 145 Sr. 65 rec., 1,102 yards, 10 TDs

TE, Jake Ortale, Palo Verde 6-4 210 Sr. 28 rec., 699 yards, 12 TDs

OL, Sione Asi, McQueen 6-2 245 Sr. Northern Region Lineman of the Year

OL, Aaron Cowee, Carson 6-4 270 Sr. Second Team All-Sierra League

OL, Griffin Kemp, Palo Verde 6-5 270 Sr. First Team All-Northwest League

OL, Devin McAndrews, Galena 6-2 223 Sr. First Team All-Northern Region

OL, Malik Noshi, Arbor View 6-3 290 Jr. Second Team All-Northwest League

ATH, Giovanni Hernandez, Green Valley 5-9 180 Sr. 40 rec., 730 yards, 11 TDs; 53 tackles, 3 INT

K, Oliver Graybar, Reno 5-11 200 Sr. 7-9 FG, long of 46 yards, 25-28 PATs

KR, Cameron Matzen, Churchill County 5-9 165 So. 1,015 return yards, 7 PR TDs



DL, Eric Anderson, Galena 6-2 242 Sr. 49 tackles, 7 sacks, 8 tackles for loss

DL, Sione Asi, McQueen 6-2 245 Sr. 68 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, Northern Region Lineman of the Year

DL, Jarvis Polu, Liberty 6-3 245 Sr. 56 tackles, 7 sacks

DL, Zack Singer, Gorman 6-3 292 Sr. 37 tackles; 3.5 sacks

DL, Dylan Weasa, Foothill 6-2 310 Sr. 60 tackles, 7 sacks

LB, Isiah Carter, Canyon Springs 6-0 205 Sr. Second Team All-Northeast League

LB, Chris Lalli, Gorman 5-10 210 Sr. 106 tackles, 4.5 sacks

LB, Jacob Littlefield, Las Vegas 6-0 195 Jr. 124 tackles, 7 sacks, 2 INT

LB, Toby Lopez, Centennial 5-8 200 Sr. 116 tackles, 1 INT

LB, Blake Whitlock, Galena 6-2 205 Sr. 76 tackles, 3 sacks, 5 tackles for loss

DB, Chaz Clark, Galena 6-3 180 Sr. 66 tackles, 2 INT, 1 sack

DB, Andrew Gutierrez, Carson 5-11 175 Sr. 64 tackles, 4 INT

DB, Casey Hughes, Legacy 6-2 190 Sr. 63 tackles, 1 INT

DB, Armand Perry, Gorman 5-11 185 Sr. 53 tackles, 2 INT

DB, Austin Warner, Reed 5-10 167 Sr. 114 tackles, 3 INT

P, Paolo Ferrer, Spring Valley 6-4 250 Sr. 36.1 avg., 13 inside 20-yard line


DL, Evan Defer, Damonte Ranch 6-2 210 Sr. 104 tackles, 11 sacks

DL, Josh Hamilton, Palo Verde 6-2 210 Sr. 60 tackles, 12 sacks

DL, Michael Hughes, Palo Verde 6-3 290 Sr. 61 tackles, 5 sacks

DL, Sam Rebman, Moapa Valley 5-11 190 Sr. 90 tackles, 15.5 sacks

DL, Noah Tialavea, Gorman 5-10 295 Jr. 51 tackles; 2.5 sacks

LB, J Henderson, Shadow Ridge 6-1 210 Sr. 59 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 5 INT

LB, Justin Hughes, Moapa Valley 5-11 160 Sr. 127 tackles, 5 INT, 4.5 sacks

LB, Nele Otukolo, Gorman 5-11 245 Jr. 74 tackles, 2 sacks

LB, Danny Otuwa, Faith Lutheran 6-2 205 Sr. 131 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 INT

LB, Dakota Schelling, Churchill County 6-2 185 Sr. 106 tackles, 8 sacks, 2 INT

DB, Calvin Connors, Lowry 5-9 155 Sr. 66 tackles, 6 INT

DB, A.J. Cooper, Canyon Springs 5-9 165 Sr. First Team All-Northeast League

DB, Albert Lake, Green Valley 5-9 170 Jr. 28 tackles, 5 INT

DB, Devon Turner, Arbor View 5-9 175 Sr. 79 tackles

DB, Dylan Weldon, Gorman 5-9 175 Sr. 28 tackles, 6 INT

P, Oliver Graybar, Reno 5-11 200 Sr. 37.7 avg