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All-region players named
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Six Alcovy Tigers and four Newton Rams were named to the Region 2-AAAAAA all-region football team, the region announced this week.

Rockdale County led the all-region list with eight first team selections, with the Tigers ranking third on the first-team list behind region champion Lovejoy, which finished with seven selections.

Ryan Adams, Jaylin Penny and Tristen Payne represented the Tigers on the all-region first-team list, while DeAndre Huff, who was named the region’s Special Teams Player of the Year, Corey Thomas and Davonta Jones earned spots for the Rams.

On the all-region first team defense, Curtiss Benton, Okon Godwin and Robert Bullard represented the Tigers, while linebacker Dez Billingslea made Newton’s lone appearance on the list.

Eight other Newton County players represented the Tigers and Rams on the all-region second team, while eight more earned all-region honorable mention accolades.

Alcovy coach Kirk Hoffman said that the selections were a great honor for the Tigers’ players and program.

“I think when you look at some of our older guys on the list like Ryan Adams, Okon Godwin, Curtiss Benton and Tristen Payne, they are kids who have been in the program and played since their freshman or sophomore seasons,” he said.

“They deserve this honor. They’ve put in many years of hard work. Some of our other guys, like Jaylin Penny and DeAnthony Bell really blossomed this year and stepped their game up. It’s nice to be able to show people where our program is headed.

“All of them are kids who have worked hard to succeed as a team and as individuals,” Hoffman said. “I couldn’t be any prouder of them.”

At offensive line for the Tigers this season, Adams led a potent Alcovy rushing attack that produced 1,625 total yards along with 16 touchdowns.

Joining Adams on the first team, Penny and Payne were the highlights of the Tigers’ offense, as Penny grabbed a team-high 35 passes for 574 yards and five touchdowns. The 6-foot-2-inch Penny averaged 16.4 yards per catch.

Payne, who was named The Covington News Athlete of the Year, 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.

Leading off the defensive selections for the Tigers, Benton, The Covington News Defensive Player of the Year, finished the season with 96 total tackles, recording 77 solo tackles while assisting on 27 others. The 6-foot-3, 245-pound defensive end finished 2013 with an outstanding 25 tackles-for-loss, including 15 sacks and three forced fumbles. Benton also scored twice on defense, tallying a touchdown and a safety for the Tigers.

At linebacker, Godwin finished second in total tackles for the Tigers in 2013, recording 80 total tackles. Godwin tallied 53 solo tackles, while assisting on 27 others. Godwin also recovered a fumble for Alcovy, while grabbing five interceptions.

The senior also finished with a team-high two defensive scores.

Bullard rounds out the list at the defensive back position for the Tigers, recording 19 total tackles, including 14 solo takedowns. Bullard had four interceptions in 2013 with eight knockdowns and one defensive score.

Huff, who played in eight games for the Rams this season, earned the Special Teams Player of the Year honor after returning 18 kicks for 576 yards and three touchdowns. On offense, Huff also ran for 194 yards on 25 carries and caught 25 passes for 282 yards and seven touchdowns.

Thomas helped the Rams’ offense produce more than 3,300 yards of total offense and 30 touchdowns, as Newton averaged more than 21 points a game.

Jones earned the all-region selection for the Rams after leading Newton with 35 catches for 590 yards this season, establishing himself as the go-to receiver in Newton’s high-powered spread offense. Jones averaged 16.9 yards per catch, while recording six receiving touchdowns. Jones also rushed for 79 yards and a score, while completing five passes for 81 yards under center in backup duty.

One of the most intimidating players in Newton County this season, Billingslea led the Rams with 91 tackles, including 74 solo takedowns. Billingslea assisted on 17 other tackles, while recording five tackles for loss and three sacks. Billingslea averaged more than nine tackles per game, while also forcing one fumble.

“It’s always good to have kids highlighted for their performance on the field,” Newton coach Terrance Banks said. “It says a lot about their work ethic and the hard work we are putting into our program. The recognition is great for our players.”

Newton’s Romario Johnson, Nuku Yobo, Taylor Hawkins, Derek Green and Robbie Wallace, along with Alcovy’s D’Anthony Bell, earned second team all-region honors.

The Tigers’ Michael Moses, Jared Farley, Cameron Banks and Roman Mack earned honorable mention accolades, along with the Rams’ Steven Montac, Alex Jacobs, Jordan Manson and Atrice Hobbs.

Lovejoy wide receiver Preston Williams, who has committed to the University of Tennessee, was named the Offensive Player of the Year, while Rockdale County’s Kentavious Preston was award the Defensive Player of the Year honor. Lovejoy coach Al Hughes was recognized as the region’s Coach of the Year.

Newton finished the year second in the region with a 5-6 overall record, falling in the first round of the state playoffs to McEachern, while Alcovy finished third in the region with a 7-4 record and a first-round loss to Hillgrove.