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Fazio: NMCs move already paying off
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Newton's big loss aside, Thursday and Friday night's opening football games seemed to go off without a hitch in Newton County.

The play was, first, exciting as Alcovy lost in a close but turnover-filled contest Thursday, and then became dominating in Eastside's 32-0 rout of Newton Friday.

There wasn't an uptick in police calls after either game, and both teams are pretty much intact despite a few injuries, making a successful Friday Night Lights.

Speaking of those injuries, while no one wants anyone to get hurt to the point where they miss games, they also went a lot smoother.

Thursday night was the first time each school had a medical trainer on hand thanks to a partnership between Newton Medical Center and the Newton County Board of Education.

That partnership was a positive as evident by many factors stemming from both games at Sharp Stadium.

When the first game-stopping injury of the season came up during Alcovy and Jones County's game on Thursday night, the matter was tended to quickly and a simple diagnosis was given on site.

Normally, the coaches would run on the field and, in this case, Alcovy coach Kirk Hoffman would be left to help the player learn what he was suffering.

But on Thursday night, Hoffman could tend to his team, not only working on continuing to scheme and plan against Jones County but also serving as a reassuring presence.

While their teammate was laying on the field with his career uncertain, the Tigers could maintain a greater sense of calm as Hoffman remained nearby while Dr. Renee Riley and the Tigers' staff could attend to the fallen player.

Riley not only made it easier for the injured but also Hoffman, who was grateful to have the orthopedic doctor on the sidelines.
Hoffman wasn't the only one to appreciate the addition of Dr. Riley and her team, as all those who are involved with Newton, Alcovy and Eastside football do as well.

"It is a great blessing to have Dr. Riley and her staff at our games and working closely with our program," Newton coach Cortez Allen said. "She has been working with our kids for about three weeks now and I know our parents are thankful and so am I."

While all three teams have been working hard since last season concluded, the biggest improvement may have come off the field.

When the NMC broached the board of education about having a trainer with each team, it paved the way for a more secure football season by the area's coaches, players and parents.

Just one game in, those efforts have already paid off.