The Rockdale and Covington News have come together across county lines to bring the inaugural Rockdale-Newton All-Area Football Team. It represents the top performers from the six schools in the area for the 2011 football season. As always, it's never easy choosing who deserves to make such a list. Nevertheless, each player named deserves their spot.
Heritage coach Chad Frazier (coach of the year), Alcovy running back Devon Edwards (offensive player of the year), Heritage defensive lineman Ryan Watson (defensive player of the year) and Newton linebacker Tyrique Brown (athlete/special teams player of the year) rose above all to garner the team's top honors. But they were just a handful of players and coaches who proved football is in good hands in the two counties.
In the end, every player who laced up their cleats and strapped on their helmets and every coach who spent countless hours planning and working with their athletes deserves thanks in 2011.
Coach of the Year
Chad Frazier, Heritage
One thing not lacking in Newton and Rockdale counties this football season was strong leadership.
Alcovy showed drastic improvement under Kirk Hoffman, and Salem challenged for a playoff spot under the direction of John Starr, but it was Heritage's historic season that led to the Newton-Rockdale All-area coach of the year selection.
Chad Frazier helmed his team to the Patriots first ever region title, their best regular season record at 9-1 and their first No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
Along with this honor from The Rockdale and Covington News, Frazier was also selected at the Region 8-AAAA Coach of the Year and received an Atlanta Touchdown Club Coach of the Week honor. However, he takes little of the credit.
"The coaching staff does a great job preparing every week, breaking down film, knowing the matchups, knowing the schemes and putting our kids in great position to be successful," Frazier said. "Our kids buying in to what we're doing, executing and knowing what we're doing; from that a lot of good things happen. With a little bit of luck and a lot of hard work, everything fell into place for us."
Heritage opened its season with a 34-14 win at Salem, before facing perennial powerhouse Clarke Central. The Patriots won a hard-fought matchup between the Gladiators and came out on top, 21-14, sparking a historic season.
The Patriots opened the season with seven straight victories - their longest winning streak in school history - and played in two televised games.
The first was a 41-0 win over Rockdale, and the second was a game for the region title against Flowery Branch. Heritage lost 21-13, but proved it could play with some of the best teams in the state.
Heritage won the rest of its games in the regular season, allowing it to finish in a tie for first place. After they secured the No. 1 seed in a drawing, the Patriots defeated Rome 13-10 in overtime on Nov. 11.
"The fact that we won the region in such a tough region with so many great coaches, coaching staffs and team, is great to accomplish that," Frazier said.
Frazier came to Heritage as his first head coaching job in 2006.
Before that he was an offensive coordinator at Northgate, following the same position at Harris County. Frazier started coaching in an internship at Lowndes County, before going to Hawkinsville.
"I like coaching high school, because between 9th and 12th grade there's such a huge change in development in the kids," Frazier said. "I really thought it was rewarding and a chance to make a difference."