For the second year in a row, Eastside quarterback Justin Wray has been selected as Player of the Year to lead The Covington News 2007 All-County Football Team.
The team - which includes 30 players representing Alcovy, Eastside and Newton - was chosen by The Covington News based on nominations submitted from the county coaches.
"It was a great season," said Wray. "I felt like we could have done a lot better as a whole, but we've done pretty (well) over the past several years."
Wray, a junior, led the Eagles in total yards from scrimmage for the second consecutive year, accounting for 2,093 yards of total offense.
Compared to 2006, his numbers improved in every single offensive category this season, with the exception of scoring the same amount of rushing touchdowns (five).
"We try to gear our whole offense around him and what he provides to the team," said Eastside head coach Rick Hurst. "I think he will be one of the top recruits in the state. Everybody knows who he is and everybody knows that we've got a special quarterback."
As a result, the Eagles went 7-3 this year, winning two more games than their previous campaign (5-5). As a starter, Wray improved his record to 12-8 overall. In fact, since 2001 Eastside quarterbacks were a combined 14-37 before he began taking the snaps.
"He's come a long way," remarked Eastside offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jay Cawthon. "He's a hard worker, and has improved on his footwork and accuracy. The game has gotten slower for him the more he's played, and that's really helped."
Overall, Wray completed 102 of 184 attempts for 1,337 yards. In addition, he threw 12 touchdowns compared to four interceptions.
Like last year, Wray proved that his legs can be just as deadly as his arm. On the ground, he rushed for 748 yards on 104 carries, averaging 7.2 yards per attempt. He even caught a pass for eight yards, showing that his hands are quite capable of making him a triple threat.
"I attribute my success to the offensive line and the whole offense," acknowledged Wray. "They did a beautiful job of blocking and creating a path for me."
According to Hurst, there is still room for improvement, such as consistency. Despite increasing his pass completion rate from 48.4 percent to 55.4, Hurst and company are hoping to reach 60 percent next year based on the type of offense that the Eagles run.
"I thought he did a good job this year of maturing in the pocket, sitting back there and making some good throws - throws that he didn't make last year," said Hurst.
After losing 24 straight games entering the 2006 season, Wray seems to have gotten the Eagles back on the right flight pattern. This rings true since he helped break the streak with a 21-20 win over Newton last year during his first game at the quarterback position.
In two years, Wray has thrown for 2,604 yards and 22 touchdowns. He has also rushed for 1,163 yards and 10 touchdowns.
"Justin's got talent that he was born with; it doesn't matter what we do," said Hurst. "As coaches, we have to hone his skills and then provide an avenue where he can be successful, and I think that's what we've done."
This year Eastside fell short of making the Class AAAA playoffs, proving that there is still work to be done - a challenge Wray knows lies ahead of him.
"Well, next year we look to accomplish winning our region," said Wray, "and also winning the county and state championship."
Realistic goals considering the only direction to go for Wray is up.