COVINGTON — Big strides were made by the Tigers during the 2013 season as Alcovy’s Curtiss Benton was named the 2013 All-Citizen Defensive and Kirk Hoffman getting the 2013 All-Citizen Coach of the Year with Newton quarterback Romario Johnson getting the 2013 All-Citizen Offensive Player of the Year honors.
It wasn’t an easy start for the Newton sophomore quarterback. During the summer, Johnson was the back-up quarterback and remained in that spot until he corrected head coach Terrance Banks. After practice, Johnson told Banks that he had the wrong personnel on the field and explained why. That was when he was promoted just before the start of the season. He also led the Rams to a 15-14 win over powerhouse Lowndes.
Johnson completed 52 percent of his passes with 137 successful passes out of his 265 attempts throwing for 1,666 yards and 21 touchdowns. He also rushed for 854, for a total of 2,520 yards, and three rushing touchdowns.
Benton had a way of playing havoc with the opponents offensive schemes a lot of times forcing offense’s to change the play they were going to run based on where he was playing, linebacker or on the line.
The Alcovy senior led the team in helmet decals with 61. Helping him earn his decals were his 77 solo, 19 tackle assists with 25 being behind the line of scrimmage. He also had 15 sacks, forced three fumbles, one fumble recovery, a defensive touchdown and a safety.
The Tigers finished the season with a 4-7 record losing in the first round of the Class AAAAAA playoffs. Even though they lost in the first round again, Alcovy head coach Kirk Hoffman led the team to 7-4 record matching their best finish in the school’s history.
At first-team quarterback, Alcovy’s Tristen Payne threw for 1,105 yards and six touchdowns while rushing for 1,035 and 10 touchdowns.
Joining Payne in the backfield was Eastside’s Jomandi Smith rushing for 769 yards and 11 touchdowns on 118 carries. He also caught 15 passes for 154 yards and one touchdown.
Salem’s Robbie Cyrus also made first-team running back rushing for 498 yards on 99 carries and had 22 receptions with seven touchdowns.
Newton’s Davonte Jones and Taylor Hawkins along with Alcovy’s Jaylin Penny proved to be threats when they caught the ball as each receiver had 35 receptions. Jones just beat out Penny with 590 yards to 574 yards. Jones also had seven touchdowns to Penny’s five. Hawkins had 462 yards and four touchdowns.
Providing protection for the quarterback and opening holes for the running game were Salem’s Nic West and Davion Bigsby, Eastside’s Obie Mash, Rockdale’s Blake Davis and Newton’s Corey Thomas.
Rockdale’s Robert McCray had 64 total tackles with 18 going for a loss at the defensive line. He also had 11 sacks and forced five fumbles.
With 72 tackles including 13 for a loss, Alcovy’s Ryan Adams also had eight sacks, forced two fumbles, broke up a pass and had a tackle in the endzone for a safety from the line of scrimmage.
Eastside’s Arthur Holmes had the opposing backfields on their heals with 13 of his 64 tackles going for a loss. He also had nine sacks, forced three fumbles, recovered one fumble, broke up a pass and knocked one down before it reached its intended target.
Newton’s Dez Billingslea led the core of linebackers with 91 tackles. Five of those were for a loss and he had three sacks.
Okon Godwin did a little bit of everything at the linebacker position for Alcovy with 80 tackles with six for a loss, five interceptions, one fumble recovery, six pass break ups and two touchdowns.
Rockdale’s defensive leader, linebacker Kentavius Preston, had 78 tackles with 19 going for a loss. He had four sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and two break ups.
Newton’s AJ Palamino was also a force to be reckoned with at linebacker with 66 tackles with nine going for a loss.
Alcovy’s Cameron Banks did not get a lot get passed him in the secondary. He had four interceptions and 10 break ups with 31 tackles and one fumble recovery.
Rockdale had a pair of defensive backs on the all-citizen team. Shakym Peters had 32 tackles with three for a loss, three interceptions and nine break ups with Anthony Davis getting 42 tackles including two for a loss, three interceptions and eight break ups.
Also in the secondary was Eastside’s Jamal Hardge who had 78 tackles and six break ups.
On the second-team offense were quarterback: Salem’s Iicash Lackey. Running back: Salem’s Tyriano Green; Eastside’s Anthony Henderson. Wide receiver: Salem’s Kanomie McIntosh; Salem’s Keylan Wright; Rockdale’s Terrell McLaughlin; Eastside’s Isaiah James. Linemen: Newton’s Alex Jacob; Alcovy’s Adams; Alcovy’s Michael Moses; Eastside’s Jordan Dennard.
On the second-team defensive team are defensive linemen James Russell (Eastside), Derek Green (Newton) and Quintarius Maddox (Salem); linebackers Zack Shelton (Alcovy), Cam Johnson (Salem), TJ Jones (Salem) and Carlos Huggins (Eastside); defensive backs Jaquan Henderson (Eastside), Robbie Wallace (Newton), Roman Mack (Alcovy) and Christopher Franklin (Newton).