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Posted: November 19, 2012 8:57 p.m.

Fazio: Teams wrap up strong season

In just one night, Newton County's football season came to an end.

It was only the second time in Newton County School System history that all three teams - Alcovy, Eastside and Newton - reached the state football playoffs simultaneously, making the 2012 a successful season.

All three teams ended up losing in the first round, but kudos to the players and coaches for reaching the postseason, a feat that only 32 teams in each classification achieve. Currently, all teams involved probably feel the season wasn't a successful one because it's over before the championship is decided; however, after the shock of an abrupt ending has subsided, things will seem differently.
The 2012 season was dominated by injuries for all three teams, leaving several players with a rough year. Things weren't much easier for the coaches as they had to struggle with lineup changes, younger players and re-arranging schemes.

But for the players to overcome such hardships makes 2012 even more successful for each team. They should make a formula for wins per season, making you multiply for X depending on injured players or take a percentage off for bone-headed off-the-field incidents (that would destroy the SEC's chances for national championships though).

In the case of the new wins formula, Eastside, Newton and Alcovy would be in the positive.

The Eagles started the year out with back-to-back wins, including a victory over Class AAAAAA playoff-bound Newton and Class AAA playoff-bound Jackson. From there, injuries made an appearance and continued to affect things on the field.

Eastside dropped a rivalry matchup against Alcovy, and then were edged at Chestatee in double overtime. Both games were close enough to where a full complement of players could have made the difference.
In the case of the Chestatee game, a victory could have possibly meant a bump in playoff seeding, a home-field game in the state tournament and, most importantly, missing out on playing juggernaut Sandy Creek.

However, that didn't happen. But Eastside did go on to win its next four games setting up a playoff-bound season.

The Eagles had several strong games, including 50-point performances against Lumpkin County and Walnut Grove, a key victory over Lanier and a season-high win over Monroe Area - the last being a win to end an unbeaten bid by Monroe Area, which was ranked No. 4 in the state.

The Eagles also had big seasons by several players, with memorable game by Alex Smith, Antonious Sims, Anthony Henderson, Marcus Griffeth and Colton Smith.
Despite the first-round exit, I think that adds up to a strong year.

For Alcovy, things were similar.

The Tigers struggled early, losing their first two games, but then picked up a momentum-changing win over Eastside.

Throughout the rest of the season, up until the playoffs, Alcovy alternated wins and losses enough to earn a top-four finish in Region 2-AAAAAA.

Although the region was arguably the weakest in the classification, it still consisted of the state's largest schools giving a challenge every week.

The Tigers were able to turn those challenges into key wins over Luella and Morrow, and a playoff-clinching victory over Rockdale in the second-to-last week of the regular season.

Alcovy did all that with injuries seemingly popping up every week and a sometimes erratic offense. The Tigers used several quarterbacks, at one time using three in a game, and going to a two-man rotation late in the year.

Cornell White led the offense, with Marcus Williams also rotating in at quarterback, starting the season as the team's signal caller.

The Tigers' defense was a strong suit with Nanpon Ross, Brett Dunn, Brandon Jones and Ryan Adams. The defensive line was key to the playoff berth, especially in the 17-8 win over Rockdale.

A week after that matchup, the Bulldogs beat Druid Hills, giving Alcovy the third seed and a playoff date with Newnan.

With Alcovy and Rockdale rounding out the two traveling seeds in Region 2-AAAAAA, and seventh-ranked Lovejoy securing the top seed, Newton finished out the top four.

The Rams started the year off with four straight losses, but that is deceiving as they were against playoff bound squads, including top seed Langston Hughes and state power houses Lowndes and Valdosta - all on the road - and Eastside.

The Rams then went on to win three straight, starting at Alcovy. Two games later, they clinched the playoffs with a rivalry-renewed contest against Rockdale.

Newton also suffered injuries, early on to starting running back, then to the offensive line and finally to its punter, receiver, defensive back and backup quarterback Aaron Pierce. But the Rams were able to overcome it and played in the region title game. Lovejoy proved to be too much for the Rams, but the Wildcats were too much for every team they played this year (with the exception of Colquitt County, which gave them their only loss this year).

The Rams lost just the one region game, proving they had the depth to overcome the key losses, and the defense to play in AAAAAA. Pierce, Kingsley Ejike, Dezmon Billingslea and Treyvon Richardson all had strong season, along with Nick White. White overcame his own injury playing this year with a broken hand and coming up with five interceptions, including three in a win over Morrow.

So in essence, White wrapped up the 2012 season for all three teams. Despite the injury issues, all three were able to reach high levels.

For each of them, the future will continue to be strong as this year's teams showed that adversity can be turned into success.

 

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