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Sims named Defensive POY
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Antonius Sims missed 4 ½ games, including 2 ½ region contests this season, but that didn't stop him from impressing every coach in 8-AAAA as they gathered to come up with an All-Region team.

Sims topped the list of defensive players, being named Defensive Player of the Year.

"I was the last one to nominate players around the table and I didn't even have a chance to nominate him," Eastside coach Rick Hurst said. "He was nominated by another coach. When that was said, we didn't need to vote on anyone else."

Sims finished the year with 39 tackles, including 12 for loss and four sacks. Every time he bookended Eastside's defensive line, Sims demanded the full attention of opposing teams, drawing double teams or drastic blocking schemes.

It was the second straight year Sims was named to the All-Region team after earning a second-team selection last year, as Eastside placed defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins on the first team and Shaquille Huff as the Defensive Player of the Year.

In 2012, the torch of great Eastside defensive players was passed to Sims, who blazed his own path.

"Everybody knew he was on the field; they knew they had to double team and help out with him or they couldn't block him," Hurst said.

Sims headlined an All-Region team that boasted nine other players, including five on the first team.

Defensively, Bryant Johnson and Marcus Griffieth were nominated by the Region 8-AAAA coaches.
Defensive back Johnson had 49 tackles and was among the Eagles' leaders in open-field tackles.

"He's been around our program for a long time; he's been around since probably the sixth grade (with an older brother playing for Eastside)," Hurst said. "He did everything for us, made our calls on defense and turned into being a really physical player."

Griffieth had 14 tackles for loss, four sacks, one interception, three forced fumbles, including one recovered and 97 tackles in a year where he grew on and off the field.

"I can't say enough how he grew up, that was a key," Hurst said. "Sometimes you discipline him and it goes the wrong way. But this is an instance where a kid learned for it, made some changes to himself and had a great second half of the year."

While Griffieth had 97 tackles, Napoleon Johnson had 107, including five for loss, four sacks, two forced fumble and one pass breakups. However, he was also the Eagles tight end, playing most of Eastside's offensive sets. With Eastside placing two other players on the first-team defense, and Sims, Johnson was nominated to the first-team offense as a tight end.

"It was well deserved," Hurst said.

Chad Costley is Eastside's other first-team offensive member, on the offensive line. Costly was one of the few Eagles lineman to remain on the field without injuries, and showed he has come a long way since his freshman season.

"As a freshman, I don't know if this kid will ever play beyond the J.V. level," Hurst said. "But, honestly he was probably our most consistent offensive lineman. He's a smart kid who had a really good year well deserved."

Eastside also had Region 8-AAAA's first-team kicker in Colton Smith. Smith handled field goal and kickoff duties for the Eagles, setting a record 45-yard field goal in the process.

"This year, he just blossomed," Hurst said. "If you look at kickoffs, he had eight touchbacks, but look at opposing teams starting field position, it was within the 25 all year long."
Eastside placed four members on the All-Region second team, with two on offense and two on defense.

Alex Smith was named the second-team running back and Obie Mash named to the second-team offensive line. Rondarius Jackson was named to the defensive line and Jamal Hardge was named the second-team returner. Other All-Region honors were given to running back Chaz Thorton of Stephens County as Offensive player of the Year, Stanton Truitt of Monroe Area as Athlete of the Year and Monroe Area's Matt Figg as Coach of the Year.