Coalition Bowl: Locals turn in MVP performances at Georgia Dome

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Game MVP Rodney Tennie (1) celebrates one of his two interceptions with teammate Maurice White and East Coweta cornerback Nigel Gay.

By DOUG GORMAN
dgorman@newnan.com
ATLANTA — There was no doubt that Coweta’s standouts provided the biggest impact of Saturday’s Central-North Senior All-Star Game as part of the first D.L. Scott Jr. Coalition Bowl at the Georgia Dome.
Newnan cornerback Rodney Tennie and East Coweta kicker/punter Spencer Smith shared top honors as the Central Stars dominated in a 10-0 victory.
The game pitted the North squad — made up of players from Catoosa, Walker, Dade, Whitfield, Gordon, Chattooga, Murray, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Cherokee, Bartow and Floyd counties against a Central squad that also included players from Carroll, Douglas, Paulding and Troup.
But Coweta’s 13 ‘stars’ seemed to shine brightest in a victory.
Northgate quarterback Josh Harrison threw a pass to Cougar receiver Traon Moss for the game’s only touchdown and both Tennie and teammate Darrell Morrow had a pair of interceptions to highlight an impressive defensive effort for a contingent of 13 players, four coaches and trainer Radar Brantley and his staff from Coweta County.
Tennie’s two interceptions — after posting eight during the 2012 season — highlighted an effort that ended with the Newnan senior receiving game defensive MVP honors.

Smith had a field goal and boomed three punts of over 50 yards. His 30-yard field goal in the fourth quarter add some insurance to the Central side of the scoreboard. In addition to his impressive punt average inside the Dome, Smith had touchbacks on all three of his kickoffs while earning the team MVP award.

“It was just an honor to be here,” Smith said. “I felt good about the way I played today.”

Smith punted out of his own end zone twice and helped change field position for his team. The East Coweta senior is hoping his booming leg will help him land a college scholarship.
(To view photos from this game, please visit http://photos.times-herald.com/mycapture and click on Sports for the Photo Gallery.)

In addition to Tennie and Morrow, contributing to the shutout were defenders Maurice White and Tray Matthews of Newnan, tackles DeAndre Johnson of Northgate and Anfernee Burks of East Coweta and Indians defensive backs Nigel Gay and Dee Godfrey.

Offensive linemen Zack Harness of East Coweta and Jamal Carlisle of Newnan also shared the field together while providing pass coverage for Harrison and blocks for Godfrey in the Central running game.

After a scoreless first half, the Central All-Star team found the end zone with a little help from some Coweta County standouts.

After Tennie set Central up deep in the North territory with his second interception of the day, Northgate's Harrison and Moss hooked up on the first big play of the day.

“It was like any football game, but it was in the Dome. We went out and played hard,” said Moss.

Harrison’s 11-yard run gave the Central squad a first down on the series, then a few plays later, he connected with Moss on the 18-yard touchdown pass.

“This was a lot of fun,” Moss said. “It was good to come in here and get the win.”

Harrison barreled over a North squad defender to help move the first down sticks on the series.

In addition to Tennie’s big defensive performance, Newnan’s Morrow also had two interceptions.

On the North’s first series after the Central score, Matthews and Morrow teamed up a huge turnover. Mathews tipped the ball in the end zone and Morrow came up with the second of his interceptions.

Newnan head coach Mike McDonald served as an assistant for the Central team and admits players from Coweta made a statement today.

“Picking an MVP was hard, but it was great to see Rodney and Spencer get the awards,” McDonald said. “Spencer’s field goal was really big.”

Defensively, the Central squad intercepted the North team five times and came up with several other big defensive stops.

“It was a great experience for my first experience in the Georgia Dome,” said Northgate's Johnson, who plans on signing with Georgia in February. “We wanted to come out here and show out, and I think we did that."

In addition to McDonald, East Coweta head coach Clint Wade and Northgate head coach Tommy Walburn and Cougars’ assistant Jeff Bryant were on the Central staff.

• RUDE WELCOME FOR NORTH
If Saturday’s All-Star committee gave an award for the hardest hit, it might just go the Cougars'  Matthews.

Matthews turned in the hardest hit of the first half, reading the North’s team’s option play perfectly, and throwing the ball carrier for a 7-yard loss.

Matthews, who committed to the University of Georgia before his junior year, will play in one more All-Star game next month when he participates in the U.S. Amry All-Star Game at the Alamodome in San Antonio, TX.

He will then head to Georgia early, enrolling in January. That will allow Matthews to participate in spring practice.

• GREAT WAY TO GO OUT
Tennie may not ever play another football game. The two-sport athlete has his mind set on playing baseball at the next level and with good reason.

Tennie’s speed has turned him into one of the top outfielders in the state.

“It was good to showcase my skills, but I don’t know if want to play football, I want to play baseball “ Tennie said. “It was fun regardless.”

• BECOMING A TRADITION
All-Star game founder David L. Scott is hoping this all-star weekend becomes an annual tradition. In addition to the North-Central game, their was also an all-star game featuring East and West players.

• HONORING A LEGEND
Former Newnan head coach Max Bass was among three legendary high school coaches honored just minutes before the start of Saturday’s game between the Central and North All-Stars.

Bass coached the Cougars from 1966-1994 compiling a 201-101 record.

Bass was joined by former Hart County and West Georgia Coach Bobby Pate and long-time Cedartown coach John Hill during the pregame ceremony.




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