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.
Coach of the Year Kirk Hoffman, Alcovy
After leading the Alcovy Tigers to their third consecutive playoff appearance, Alcovy coach Kirk Hoffman has been named the All-Area Coach of the Year for the 2013 season.
Hoffman and the Tigers finished with a program-best 7-4 record in 2013, matching the mark Hoffman set with the Tigers in 2009.
Alcovy reeled off a winning streak of four games this season, and posted wins over county rival Eastside and region rival Rockdale County.
The Tigers recorded region victories over Luella, Morrow, Druid Hills and Rockdale, finishing the season with a 4-2 mark in Region 2-AAAAAA.
The Tigers also earned non-region victories over Perry and Jackson.
Hoffman said his players should be commended for how they performed this season.
"I thought at the beginning of the year that we could be pretty good if our defense carried us early," Hoffman said. "Our defense did their part and I thought, as a team, we got better each and every week.
"We got to a point at the end of the season where we could be competitive and the kids played hard every week. As a coach, that's all you can ask for."
The playoff apperance for the Tigers was the fourth in five years for the Alcovy program.
Hoffman said that in a short time, the Tigers have established themselves as a legitimate program in the region.
"We've reached the playoffs four of the last five seasons, and I think that's something people need to take notice of," Hoffman said. "Our program is really headed in the right direction.
"Right now, we are exactly where we need to be, and we've put in the work to get there," he said. "Now we're looking to do more and push and get over the hump."
Hoffman has coached the Tigers to 32 wins in eight years, winning six games or more in three different seasons.