Published Wednesday, December 05, 2012
By CHRIS GOLTERMANN
Cousins Tray Matthews and Dee Godfrey each earned top individual honors for respective Newnan and East Coweta football teams during the naming of this year’s All-Region 3-AAAAAA football team on Saturday.
But champion Langston Hughes proved to be the most talented when this year’s voting ended.
Following a season of firsts that ran the gamet from a plus-.500 year and region title to an initial state playoff season in just their fourth year of varsity play, the Panthers garnered a 3-AAAAAA-best seven, First Team All-Region selections in addition to sophomore end DeAndre Walker earning Defensive Player of the Year honors.
In addition, Hughes’ Willie Cannon earned the region’s Coach of the Year Award after leading the program to a 10-2 season, a seven-game improvement over last year’s win total.
The Panthers did it primarily with underclassmen who had been thrust into starting roles during a tough 3-7 season in 2011. The experienced paid off handsomely, especially on defense where Hughes didn’t allow an opponent past the 20-point plateau until the second round of the state playoffs.
Walker was among four defenders leading the way, three of which were also named to the 3-AAAAAA First Team. The 6-4, 210-pound sophomore end finished the season with 105 tackles, 73 solo and 18 of which that went for losses.
He added an eye-popping 21 sacks to go with two forced fumbles and a pair of recoveries while adding a blocked punt.
Matthews and Godfrey were equally standout performers for county lineups while both expected to stay in-state at the next level at Georgia and Georgia Southern, respectively. Matthews will play in the upcoming U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 5 in San Antonio. Godfrey has been selected to play in the NUC All-American Game for seniors later this month in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
In his final season in a Newnan uniform, Matthews made big plays in all three phases en route to 3-AAAAAA Most Valuable Player honors.
The senior finished with 37 catches for 629 yards and seven touchdowns while playing a major role on offense for the first time in his career.
“He really carried us through the early part of the season,” said Newnan offensive coordinator Kenny Morris. “That was a huge help to our sophomore quarterback while we were trying to get him settled into the system.”
Returning to his starting safety position for the third consecutive year, Matthews made 80 tackles including 61 solo hits with most opponents opting to throw to the opposite side of the field.
Matthews equally made his presence known on special teams with six blocked kicks while now expecting to enroll at the University of Georgia in January where he’ll join former Newnan teammates Alec and Zander Ogletree.
Meanwhile, Godfrey helped carry East Coweta back to the state playoffs in a year where the Indians lost 32 seniors to graduation while making the jump to AAAAAA.
The elusive senior finished with a career-high 1,180 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns, averaging an impressive 7.2 yards per carry.
“He might be the most talented football player I’ve ever coached,” admitted East Coweta head coach Clint Wade. “He was a game-changer for us. Our Energizer bunny.”
Godfrey, who also started at cornerback for the second straight year, also was among Indians team-leaders with 23 receptions for 216 yards.
Both county lineups garnered an additional six First-Team selections between offense, defense and special teams.
Cougar seniors Quinton Dix and Traon Moss were among those named to the First-Team offense after leading Newnan in both rushing and receiving yards. Dix, a 235-pound bulldozing runner, had 181 carries for 891 yards and eight touchdowns. Moss finished with career highs while posting 37 receptions for 691 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Also among First-Team receivers was East Coweta junior Markel Boston, who finished with 29 catches for 440 yards and three touchdowns.
Senior right tackles Zach Harness of East Coweta and Jamal Carlisle of Newnan also earned nods on the First-Team Offense.
The First-Team Defense included two Cougars and two Indians. Newnan junior middle linebacker Tonaris Portress, who led the team with 124 tackles and added two interceptions and three sacks, was joined by fellow standout defender Rodney Tennie.
Tennie, a senior cornerback, came on strong in his final varsity season to finish with a region-best eight interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.
East Coweta was represented defensively on the First Team by senior end Clifton Strong, who finished with 73 tackles, and senior safety Tyler Brown, who played as many as four positions in the starting lineup during points of the 2012 season. Brown finished with 121 tackles and three interceptions in his first year as a starter.
Specialists from both teams were also honored on the All-Region First Team. East Coweta senior Spencer Smith was named 3-AAAAAA’s top punter with a 36.6 average this year and senior Nigel Gay was selected as a kick returner while also selected to the Second Team receiving corps.
Harness, Smith and Gay are expected to represent East Coweta in the upcoming Georgia Senior All-Star Bowl at the Georgia Dome.
Newnan junior Walker Sandlin also earned a nod as a long snapper.
The Cougars had seven players named to the All-Region Second Team following a 9-3 season. They included sophomore J.K. Britt (running back) and junior Anfenney Turner (line) on offense and seniors Willie Boston (defensive line), Maurice White (linebacker), Cameron Walker (linebacker) and Darrell Morrow (defensive back). Senior punter Tyler Mulvenna was also a Second Team selection.
Earning Second Team honors for East Coweta along with Gay at receiver were seniors Luke Clayton (offensive line), Chris Burton (defensive line) and Jay Godfrey (linebacker) along with sophomore Tristan Mann (defensive line).
2012 ALL REGION 3-AAAAAA FOOTBALL TEAM
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER – WR/S Tray Matthews - Newnan, Sr.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR – RB Dee Godfrey, East Coweta, Sr.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR – DE DeAndre Walker, Langston Hughes, So.
COACH OF THE YEAR – Willie Cannon, Langston Hughes
FIRST TEAM OFFENSE
QB — Ellis Richardson, Douglas County, Sr.
RB — Keion Davis, Langston Hughes, Sr.
RB — Quinton Dix, Newnan, Sr.
WR — Traon Moss, Newnan, Sr.
WR — Trevon Badger, Langston Hughes, Sr.
WR — Markel Boston, East Coweta, Jr.
WR — Torrei Jones, Tri-Cities, Sr.
OL — Dominique Threatt, Tri-Cities, Sr.
OL — Jahlil Mathis-Ellis, Langston Hughes, Jr.
OL — Zack Harness, East Coweta, Sr.
OL — Jamal Carlisle, Newnan, Sr.
OL — Shamire Devine, Tri-Cities, Sr.
K — Chris Hernandez, Tri-CIties, Sr.
P — Spencer Smith, East Coweta, Sr.
Ret — Nigel Gay, East Coweta, Sr.
LS — Walker Sandlin, Newnan, Jr.
FIRST TEAM DEFENSE
DL — Marcus Adams, Tri-Cities, Sr.
DL — Jeremiah Culbreth, Langston Hughes, So.
DL — Clifton Strong, East Coweta, Sr.
DL — Tyrone Pope, Westlake, Jr.
LB — Tonaris Portress, Newnan, Jr.
LB — Montavious Atkinson, Langston Hughes, So.
LB — Kalil Gray, Langston Hughes, Jr.
DB — Rodney Tennie, Newnan, Sr.
DB — Tyler Brown, East Coweta, Sr.
DB — Joshua Fuller, Langston Hughes, Sr.
DB — Dontavious Long, Tri-Cities, Sr.
SECOND TEAM OFFENSE
QB — Kenny Moxey, Langston Hughes, Jr.
RB — J.K. Britt, Newnan, So.
RB — Terrell Gibson, Douglas County, Sr.
WR — Anthony Graves, Douglas County, Sr.
WR — Tae Eberhardt, Langston Hughes, Sr.
WR — Nigel Gay, East Coweta, Sr.
OL — Quinzavious Sands, Douglas County, r.
OL — Anfenney Turner, Newnan Jr.
OL— Joseph Alexander, Tri-Cities, Jr.
OL— Trevor Arnold, Langston Hughes, Sr.
OL— Luke Clayton, East Coweta, Sr.
P — Tyler Mulvenna, Newnan, Sr.
K — Stefan Whitehead, Langston Hughes, Sr.
SECOND TEAM DEFENSE
DL — Tristan Mann, East Coweta, So.
DL — Willie Boston, Newnan, Sr.
DL — Johnson, Langston Hughes
DL — Chris Burton, East Coweta, Sr.
LB — Jay Godfrey, East Coweta, Sr.
LB — Maurice White, Newnan, Sr.
LB —Cameron Walker, Newnan, Sr.
DB — Darrell Morrow, Newnan, Sr.
DB — Jermaine Burroughs, Douglas County, Sr.
DB — Robert Saunders, Langston Hughes, Sr.
DB — Deontez Williams, Langston Hughes, Sr.
HONORABLE MENTION OFFENSE – QB: Bryce Gemmel, East Coweta, Jr.; Bailey Bryant, Newnan, So.; RB: Anthony Garner, Douglas County, Sr, Weylin Orr, East Coweta, Jr., Charles Middlebrooks, Tri-Cities, Jr.; WR: Wyatt Potter, East Coweta, Sr, Carlos Merritt, Langston Hughes, Sr., Bingo Morton, Langston Hughes, Jr; Ishmael Lewis, Douglas County, Jr., Eric Hines Douglas County; Jamari Elliott, Fr., Westlake; OL: Christian Bruno, Douglas County, Jr., Innis Claud, Tri-Cities, Fr., Jordan Shaw, Westlake, Jr, Tederick Cofield, Westlake., Joshua Brown, Langston Hughes, Sr.; Quandarious Simon, Langston Hughes, Sr.; Jay Russell, Newnan, Sr.
HONORABLE MENTION DEFENSE – DL: Michael Parris, Douglas County, Jr.; Nashon Hester, Douglas County, Jr., Jabari Lee, Douglas County, Sr., Deonte Jackson, Langston Hughes, So., Anfernee Burks, East Coweta, Jr.; LB: Andrekay Askew, Langston Hughes, Sr.; Devin Cox, Langston Hughes, Jeffrey McMichael, Douglas County, Jr. , Shane Carey, Douglas County Jr., Demario Holland, Tri-Cities, Sr.; CB: Erick Peek, Sr. Langston Hughes, Shawn Yancey-Hardwick, Langston Hughes, Jr.