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Posted: May 22, 2017 3:15 p.m.

Eastside's Garrett Stevens, Newton's Darnell Jefferies get big honors

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Soon-to-be Eastside graduate Garrett Stevens, left, stands with a scholarship award from the Atlanta Touchdown Club.

COVINGTON, Ga. -- Eastside linebacker Garrett Stevens got one more honor to commemorate his high school career just before graduation. 

The linebacker and Birmingham Southern signee received the Atlanta Touchdown Club Scholarship award last Wednesday. And Eastside football coach Troy Hoff said it was the perfect send off for one of the leaders of his 2016 team’s defense. 

“It’s really cool for him,” Hoff said. “From day one here, he’s just a hard working kid. He’s a high character kid on and off the field. And to win an award like that, you have to be a good football player, but it also shows what he does in the classroom and what he does down the street, as we like to say. It’s great to see him go out the door with this, on his way to Birmingham. This is a great way to cap it off for him.” 

It was something that, when Stevens found out about it, gave him a great sense of humility. 

“I was actually called by Dennis Caniglia, who is the President Emeritus of the Touchdown Club of Atlanta…their National Football Foundation chapter,” Stevens said. “After being notified, I just felt very blessed and honored to receive this scholarship award. It means a lot to me to close out my football career at Eastside by winning this award. It shows that I’ve put in the extra time on and off the field. Not only that, but it shows what hard work and dedication can do for you.”

Stevens, a 6-foot-1, 220 pounder, was instrumental in the Eagles’ 7-3-1 mark in 2016 which netted them their second playoff appearance in the last three years. Stevens anchored Eastside’s defense with 120 tackles, including 40 solo stops. The team captain also recorded eight tackles for loss and a quarterback sack. 

Hoff said it’s important for his underclassmen and returning players to see a player like Stevens garner this kind of recognition. 

“A lot of these upcoming freshmen, they know guys like Garrett,” Hoff said. “They’ve been around the program. They’ve seen him and they can say, ‘Look at what this guy did.’ And the fact that it wasn’t just on the football field makes it special. Garrett’s mom and Dad, Craig and Sandy, his sister, they’re all just a great family and they’ve been Eagles for a long time. He’s just a great example.” 

Stevens is hoping to extend that example into the college ranks. He’s planning on moving to Birmingham in early July to get settled in with the area and to start training early with his new team. He says he’s chomping at the bit to get start this new chapter of his football life. 

“I’m honestly excited about the whole college experience,” Stevens said. “From playing ball at the collegiate level, to starting classes at school. I’m just excited about the whole experience.”

Newton rising senior gets US Army All-American Bowl

Many people believe Newton’s rising senior defensive end Darnell Jefferies is poised to have a big 2017 season. And apparently the selection committee for the US Army All-American Bowl believe the hype. 

Jefferies took to Instagram to show off his nomination to the 2018 US Army All-American Bowl — a fairly prestigious all-star game that showcases some of the nation’s top high school football seniors. Jefferies’ nomination comes after a solid junior season where he impressed enough to collect 17 NCAA Division I offers, according to rivals.com. Among the schools seemingly most interested in the 6-foot-4, 270 pound Class of 2018 star are Alabama, Georgia, Clemson and South Carolina. 

He’s touted as the nation’s No. 32 defensive end prospect after a 2016 season where he seemed to invade opposing teams’ offensive backfields more regularly as the season went on. He’s expected to be the anchor in a slightly retooled Newton defense that will lose some key contributors from graduation.

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