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No Payne, no gain

The Covington News and The Rockdale News have once again transcended county lines to bring you the third annual Newton County-Rockdale County All-Area Football Team.

The team represents 25 of the finest football players from six schools throughout two counties, highlighting the seasons of some of Newton and Rockdale counties' best on the gridiron.

It's never easy choosing the yearly honors, but each player on the list earned his spot with blood, sweat and tears shed during the season.

Newton quarterback Romario Johnson (Offensive Player of the Year), Alcovy defensive lineman Curtiss Benton (Defensive Player of the Year), Alcovy quarterback Tristen Payne (Athlete of the Year) and Alcovy coach Kirk Hoffman (Coach of the Year) rose above the rest to earn All-Area top honors.

Although Johnson, Benton, Payne and Hoffman have been highlighted, Newton and Rockdale counties can be proud of their teams this season, with three of the six teams earning postseason bids. The future of football in the area appears to be in good hands.

In the end, every player who laced up cleats, put on pads and strapped on helmets made an impact. The countless hours spent practicing and planning have not gone unnoticed.

Athlete of the Year Tristen Payne, Quarterback/Defensive Back, Alcovy

There are very few true two-way players left in football today, but Alcovy quarterback/defensive back Tristen Payne, embodying toughness on the gridiron, is one of them.

Payne has been named the 2013 All-Area Athlete of the Year after leading the Alcovy Tigers to a 7-4 record.

At quarterback, Payne led the Tigers in rushing and passing, throwing for 1,035 yards on 77 of 178 passing and 10 touchdowns.

Payne also ran for 1,105 yards on 267 carries, carrying the ball three times more than any other Tiger on the roster.

Payne averaged 4.1 yards per carry, running for three touchdowns.

On defense, Payne recorded 37 total tackles, including 30 solo takedowns.

The senior had two tackles-for-loss, a sack and an interception.

The 5-foot-11-inch Payne also had three knockdowns from his safety position.

While others tired late in the game, Payne thrived, lending credence to the old adage: "no pain, no gain,"