COVINGTON, Ga. — If there was one word to describe the 2018 East Metro Atlanta Football Media Day, it may be, ‘groundbreaking.’
Groundbreaking in the sense that this was the first, and definitely not last, event of its kind in the East Metro area. Monday’s event featured 11 Georgia High School Association schools and one Georgia Independent School Association private school, all hailing from Newton, Rockdale and Walton counties and all gathering at the Porter Performing Arts Center in Covington for the inaugural event.
And the testimonies from those who attended rolled in regularly throughout the day.
Every coach seemed to start off with the same line as they took the stage, suggesting they were thankful to see an event like this happen, and that it was something long overdue for the football talent in the area.
To a man, they stated how events like Monday’s media day is what the athletes deserve. Newton head coach Terrance Banks even made mention of how this media day was important in keeping athletes home and not chasing the spotlight that other counties shine on their players.
“It’s definitely the kind of thing that when you look at football in places like Gwinnett or Cobb County and you see those kinds of events happening, it really is a big deal to the coaches and kids in the area.”
Overall, the first year of this event was one to be proud of, particularly for the sports editors of the local newspapers who hosted it.
“It’s just a tremendous thing to see this come together, from an idea we conceived around this time last summer to full fruition in the form of schools from three counties agreeing with the idea that the East Metro area needs shine,” said The Covington News sports editor Gabriel Stovall.
“It couldn’t have happened without the full support of the publishers and owner of both The Covington News and Walton Tribune newspapers, and it definitely couldn’t have happened without the support of the athletes, coaches, ADs, parents and fans. We’re excited and already looking forward to making next year’s event even better.”
Walton Tribune sports editor, Brett Fowler echoed the same sentiments.
“I’m extremely pleased with how this media day turned out,” he said. “We had a great turnout and you could tell the coaches and players were excited to be there. There’s a few things I think we might could do better moving forward, but overall for the first one I think it went well.”
The event began with Stovall recounting his story of moving to Georgia and covering sports all over the state, taking notice to the fact that once he got to Newton County, he saw an incredible array of talent, not just in the county, but in the surrounding area as well.
As each coach and player took the stage, questions about the soon-coming 2018 season came from media and even a couple of parents and fans. Expectations, schemes, stories and more shed light on what is to come this upcoming season for all 12 schools in attendance.
The history in the building was present as well.
Several of these coaches have played against each other numerous times in various settings, and some will play each other for the first time this season. One coach in particular, Mike Parris of Piedmont Academy is a veteran to the coaching scene. One of his several GHSA coaching stops was at Forest Park High where he coached now-NFL Hall of Famer and former Georgia Bulldog and Pittsburgh Steeler, Hines Ward. Parris also once coached Heritage’s head coach Corey Johnson.
Parris opened his comments with general encouragement directed to all of the players in attendance.
“Go out and enjoy your high school time playing football and let the college stuff take care of itself,” he said.
But it wasn’t just the coaches who were appreciative of Monday’s media day. Players also shared their appreciation for the event, both in person and on social media.
“Glad to be apart of this special day,” Social Circle quarterback Tate Peters posted on Twitter. “Hope this event grows in the future. Thanks for the invite.”
This was one of the many quotable moments of a day that only whet football fans’ appetites for the 2018 season even more.
And as the remaining players lined up for a group picture at the end of the day, the excitement in the room could be felt. Football season is steadily approaching, and this event moved everyone one step closer to finally seeing the players and coaches hit the field.
Check back with covnews.com, as well as our weekend print edition, for more coverage from Monday's media day.