The first year of Region 2-AAAAAA produced several big moments throughout the 2012 season, and the runner up to the champion of the state's highest classification.
This week, the league also produced its first All-region team. The first second and honorable mention teams may have been dominated by Lovejoy players, with the Wildcats producing the region's Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Athlete of the Year and Coach of the Year, but Alcovy and Newton was also well honored.
Newton placed the second most players on the All-region team with its 11 nominations, second to Lovejoy's 24 and Alcovy had the second most first- and second-team members with eight, next to Lovejoy's 21.
"Lovejoy definitely had an outstanding season," Newton coach Cortez Allen said. "They are the best overall team but we felt like a lot of kids from a lot of the other schools in the region definitely deserved some spots on first and second teams."
Cornell White was the only Alcovy player on the first team, being nominated as a running back. It was the third straight year he was named an All-region player, the first time as an athlete, last year as quarterback and this year as a running back. He joined Trae Bonner of Luella and Newton's James Hardeman as the top backs in 2-AAAAAA this year.
White finished with two touchdowns and 630 yards on 158 carries, while also spending some time at quarterback for the Tigers.
Hardeman finished with 1,035 yards and five touchdowns on 194 carries and was the region's second-most prolific running back behind Lovejoy's Travis Custis, who was named Offensive Player of the Year.
Hardeman was named the Rams starting running back for Newton's third game of the season, and became their go-to offensive weapon from that point on.
"It's been no secret that James saved our season with him coming in and being able to run the ball effectively like he did," Allen said. "He was able to get our offensive jump-started."
Joining Hardeman on the first-team offense for Newton was Nuka Yobo on the offensive line. The 6-foot-4, 265-pound sophomore was the only non-Lovejoy player named as one of the five first-team offensive lineman, and is one of just two sophomores named to the first team.
"He's well deserved," Allen said. "It's pretty impressive too to hear those guys talk about Lovejoy's front five and a couple other kids who are seniors on the offensive line that made All-region team and for him to be the only non-Lovejoy kid on the offensive line was pretty huge. He did an outstanding job."
Newton placed two players on the defensive side of the All-region first-team, in seniors Nick White and Kingsley Ejike.
Ejike also received nominations for Defensive Player of the Year, but was edged out by Lovejoy's Nathaniel Norwood.
The defensive end finished with 15 sacks, two quarterback hurries, two fumble recoveries and 82 tackles, including 21 ½ for loss for the Rams
"One of my conversations with a lot of college coaches is that Kingsley has some of the best ball get-offs for a high school kid that I've ever seen," Allen said. "To get off the ball is critical on both sides of the ball, and he's probably the best that I've ever coached at that position."
White started the season out by telling Allen and his staff he broke his arm, and was in a cast for the whole season, leaving just one arm completely healed. That didn't stop Newton's top defensive back from tallying stats such as four interceptions, 11 pass-defenses, one fumble caused and recovered and 61 tackles.
"Nick had an outstanding season with six interceptions and a couple returned for touchdowns," Allen said. "He did a heck of a heck of a job being a complete corner for us."
White's defensive mates Treyvon Richardson and Joe Rockett also received postseason honors from Region 2-AAAAAA coaches, earning their way onto the second-team defense.
Rockett had 54 tackles, one sack, one fumble recovery and two pass breakups at linebacker for Newton. Richardson helped anchor the defensive line from the nose tackle position with 38 tackles, including 5 ½ for loss and four sacks.
Vinnie Jengelly was the Rams lone second-team offensive player on the offensive line.
Alcovy placed three players on the second-team offense, including linemen David Rash and Curtiss Benton.
The Tigers also placed an athlete on the second team in Antwon Glover, who had nine catches for 140 yards and two touchdowns and three carries for 21 yards.
The Tigers also had a good showing on the second team in lineman Ryan Adams, linebacker Okon Godwin, defensive back Marcus Williams and kicker Rysan Richardson.
Adams had 66 tackles with a team-high 10 sacks and nine tackles for loss. Godwin had 74 tackles, including 54 solo tackles, 11 tackles for loss, four sacks and four forced fumbles. Williams finished with 41 tackles, three interceptions, three fumbles recovered and two defensive touchdowns.
Richardson was 6 of 10 on field goals with a 44-yarder and made all 17 of his extra point attempts this season.
Newton's Devonte Carter, AJ Palomino, Anthony Durham and Kemani Pittman all made the All-region honorable mention team, along with four Tigers.
Alcovy placed Joaquin Ross, Leroy Robinson, Tristen Payne and Jaylin Penny on the All-region team, that was otherwise dominated by Lovejoy.
"Look at the year they had, they have a lot of seniors I think the kids got the award for Lovejoy definetly deserve it," Alcovy coach Kirk Hoffman said. "I came away from the meeting disappointed that some of our kids didn't make it but very excited that we had eight."