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Fazio: Individual feats dominate 2012-13
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Another school year is winding down, and with it another prep sports year is under wraps.

The 2012-13 school term was a strong one for individual accomplishments throughout Newton County. The previous year, 2011-12, saw the rise of Alcovy’s football and basketball teams, while Eastside returned to the playoffs.

There wasn’t the same luster for team sports this time around, but for individuals it was a strong year.

In the fall, the individual feats started with Colton Smith setting Eastside’s record for longest field goal with a 45-yarder in the second week of the season. That second week was also the first game James Harden started as Newton’s running back and offensive focal point. From then on, he was a one-man-Ram show on offense, helping Newton finish second in Region 2-AAAAAA.

Another Ram also had a successful fall as Alex Grady set several cross country records and won the Region 2-AAAAAA and NewRock meets. Despite all three football teams reaching the playoffs, and Alcovy making a run in the state softball tournament, Grady was the highlight of the fall, leading Newton cross country while setting the pace for a valedictorian academic school year.

While Grady finished 23rd at the state meet, the area had an individual state champion in the winter season, across town at Eastside High.

Kevin Thompson pinned Turner Martin for the state wrestling title to remain unbeaten in 2012-13 and be named Class AAAA champion.

The 2012 part of 2012-13 season wasn’t dominated by fooball, as the fall and early winter typically was, setting the tone for the rest of the school year. While there were plenty of playoff teams throughout the county in football, softball, soccer, basketball, tennis and baseball, it was individuals such as Grady, Thompson, Harden, Kingsley Ejike and others who were the story early.

That trend continued into 2013 as Meagan Tucker and Ashley Williams signed on to play basketball at Auburn and Alabama, respectively and then led the Tigers to a Region 2-AAAAAA title. Williams was also named region player of the year, dominating 2-AAAAAA.

As the school year came to an end, another individual title came to the county as Newton’s Malik Franklin won first place in the state’s long jump competition.

Overall the Rams finished eighth out of the 43 Class AAAAAA teams, which was a solid finish. But the first-place mark set by Franklin was indicative of the county’s school year. The individual accomplishments were the exclamation point on a solid sports year.