Ten players from Rockdale County joined the Newton County contingent on the inaugural Rockdale-Newton News All-Area Team. Heritage coach Chad Frazier (coach of the year) and Patriots' defensive lineman Ryan Watson (defensive player of the year), Alcovy's Devon Edwards and Newton' Tyrique Brown took the team's other top honors.
Offensive Player of the Year
Devon Edwards, (RB/KR, Alcovy)
Devon Edwards roared into Alcovy's record books. He set a school record for all-purpose yards with 1,917 yards and scored a school-record 20 touchdowns as a running back, receiver and kick returner. His four kickoff returns for touchdowns is also a school record.
Edwards became the school's third 1,000-yard running back and second straight after finishing the year with 1,009 rushing yards. He joined Tre Sorrells, who surpassed the 1,000-yard mark last year and Malachi Outlaw as Alcovy's only 1,000-yard backs. Outlaw became Alcovy's first 1,000-yard rusher in 2009.
Edwards averaged 7.5 yards per carry and scored 13 touchdowns on the ground. He also hauled in 11 receptions for another 251 yards and found the end zone three times as a receiver. Perhaps Edwards' most explosive stats came in the return game though.
As a kickoff returner, Edwards racked up 657 yards and averaged 41 yards per return.
Athlete of the Year
Tyrique Brown, (OLB,Newton)
Perhaps no player in the entire state made more of an impact on special teams than Newton linebacker Tyrique Brown in 2011. What Brown did was nothing short of amazing. Just check out the numbers. Brown had 101 tackles to lead the Rams, but it was everything else that made him stick out. That everything else included five fumble recoveries, three safeties, a pair of defensive touchdowns and a mind-boggling 10 blocked kicks.
Brown's play changed games. Against Langston Hughes late in the season, he blocked a kick, scooped up a fumble and returned it for a touchdown and registered a safety all while the Rams were in the midst of playing for their playoff lives. Newton ultimately fell short of making the postseason, but it wasn't because of a lack of inspired play from players like Brown.
First Team Offense
Chase Dial (OL, Newton); Dial had an 87 percent blocking grade for the Rams in 2011.
Paul Hadaway (OL, Eastside); Hadaway led the team in knock downs with 43 and paved the way for the Eagles running game that rushed for more than 1,000 yards.
Scott Mills (OL, Alcovy); Mills earns a spot on the All-Area team thanks to his consistency and overall solid play on the county's lone playoff team. He was named to the Region 3-AAAA All-Region second team.
Harrison Baize (OL, Heritage); Baize, a senior, graded out to 88 percent on Heritage's offensive line this season. He had 56 knockdown blocks and didn't give up a sack in 2011.
Kevin Whitter (OL, Salem); Whitter graded out at 86 percent and was selected as an East West Senior Bowl All-Star.
Javonte Williams (RB, Newton); Newton's diminutive back became the first player to rush for 1,000 yards in a season since 1998. In fact, Williams rushed for 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2011. He posted a 6.2 yards per carry average.
Quami Stanley (RB, Heritage); Stanley rushed for 1,127 yards and 11 touchdowns on 162 rushes, for 7 yards per carry. He also caught 20 catches for 426 yards and four touchdowns. Stanley was selected to the 2011 East West Senior All Star game.
Jahaad Coleman (RB, Salem); Coleman was a weapon on both offense and special teams for Salem. Coleman ran for 923 yards and 11 touchdowns in just seven games for the Salem Seminoles. The senior also averaged 26 yards on kick returns, and ran back one touchdown.
Dante Blackmon (WR, Eastside); Blackmon led all receivers amongst the area's six schools with 44 receptions and 636 yards. Blackmon also had five touchdown catches including four in the Eagles' final two games.
Kenard Murry (WR, Alcovy); Murry had a pair of huge receiving games for the Region 3A-AAAA champion Tigers in 2011. He finished with four touchdowns on the season.
Cornell White (QB, Alcovy); White was a dual threat, rushing for 537 yards while passing for 911. He threw nine touchdowns and ran for another five all while playing fulltime n defense.
First Team Defense
Ryan George (DL, Salem)
Ryan George starred at linebacker as just a junior for Salem. George tallied 43 solo tackles, including nine for a loss.
Shaquille Huff (DL, Eastside); Along with Sheldon Rankins and Antonius Sims, Huff formed one of the most dynamic front lines in recent history. He also led the Eagles in tackles for a loss.
Sheldon Rankins (DL, Eastside); Injury cut Rankins senior campaign short but what he did in eight games was enough to earn him a spot on the team. His seven sacks led the Eagles and his two interceptions and three fumble recoveries were also a team-high.
Kingsely Ejike (DL, Newton); Ejike exploded on the scene with 73 tackles and a staggering 21 for a loss in 2011 for the Rams. His 9.5 sacks were a team best.
Curtiss Benton (DL, Alcovy); Benton came out of nowhere to lead the Tigers with six sacks and 11 tackles for a loss in just his first year as a starter.
Blake Rouse (LB, Eastside); Rouse led the Eagles in tackles for a second straight year and was also named to the region's all-defensive team for a second time.
Chase Alford (LB, Heritage); Alford registered 147 tackles, including 76 on his own. He had five tackles for loss, and a half a sack. He also recorded two interceptions and three forced fumbles.
Kiante Allen (LB, Rockdale); Kiante Allen starred on both sides of the ball for Rockdale, but made his mark at linebacker. The senior recorded 98 tackles, 23 solo. He also had four sacks.
Anotnio Williams (LB, Newton); Williams finished with 72 tackles, four for a loss and a sack. Williams forced one fumble and recovered two - returning one for a touchdown.
Lackash Lackey (DB, Salem); Lackash Lackey is one of the youngest players on our All-area list, but he earned his way here. Lackey had three interceptions, eight pass breakups and 37 tackles. On special teams, the sophomore returned a punt for a touchdown.
Justin Bates (DB, Eastside); Bates was one of Region 4-AAA best cornerbacks in 2011. He led the Eagles in lock downs and pass break ups. He also made plays in special teams as a kick returner.
Jamaaal Lane (S, Heritage); One of Heritage's senior captains, Jamaal Lane helped anchor the secondary this season. Lane had 77 tackles, including 43 solo and 34 assists, and one tackle for loss. Lane also had an interception, fumble recovery and two pass break ups.
Zack Sullivan (SR, Newton); Sullivan's was perfect in extra point attempts and had a 42-yard field goal. He was also a solid punter, averaging 37 yards per kick. He had a region-high 11 touchbacks on kickoffs.