FOOT­BALL

The Covington News - - Sports -

that al­most knocked off county ri­val East­side last month.

“One thing I never be­lieved in as a coach is run­ning the op­tion,” he said af­ter New­ton’s near up­set over East­side. “When I de­cided to run it, I told the guys, ‘you’re go­ing to think I’m crazy, but we can run the op­tion against th­ese guys.’ We felt if you give us time and we keep go­ing, it would work.”

Hurst said what makes McCray so ef­fec­tive in run­ning the op­tion is his abil­ity to sell the pitch and make the read to find the gap. A per­fect ex­am­ple came against Redan Fri­day when he took the op­tion cut-back 75yards for a score in New­ton’s 4236 over­time win.

“The kids rally around Demetrius,” Collins said. “He is a quiet leader that gives us a chance to win. What else can I say?”

Al­covy coach Kirk Hoff­man can prob­a­bly re­late with Collins. Af­ter the Tigers lost starter Eric Strozier to grad­u­a­tion, the quar­ter­back job was an un­known com­ing into 2008. Af­ter P.J. Thomp­kins earned the job over the sum­mer, the Tigers got off to a slow start. They squeaked out a win over New­ton but failed to score an of­fen­sive touch­down un­til week three.

Thomp­kins went down in the Tigers’ game against North Clay­ton and de­fen­sive back Rod Tolen, who was listed as the backup, came in and led Al­covy to its first of­fen­sive score.

With Thomp­kins ail­ing, Hoff­man turned to Tolen as the starter and like McCray, he’s pro­vided a spark.

“He sees the field re­ally well,” said team­mate, run­ning back Malachi Out­law. “He can re­ally run. I wish I could run like that.”

Tolen chewed up Stock­bridge on the road in his first start to the tune of 163 yards and a score and the Tigers’ picked up their first road win in school his­tory.

Tolen car­ried his team to its sec­ond straight win the fol­low­ing week against Jones­boro and Al­covy sits at 2-2 in Re­gion 4AAAA with four games re­main­ing.

East­side had the lux­ury of re­turn­ing star­ing quar­ter­back Justin Wray and it’s shown. Wray has led his team to a per­fect 5-0 start, the best in school his­tory, and he’s ma­tured into a true dual threat. Satur­day against a Stephens County team that hadn’t lost a re­gion game in four years, Wray threw for more than 100 yards and made sev­eral key reads in the pass­ing game in­clud­ing a 28-yard boot­leg off play action that gave his team a two touch- down lead in the third quar­ter.

Hurst said the key for Wray has been his abil­ity to read what the de­fense is giv­ing him while go­ing through his pro­gres­sions.

“It’s not al­ways easy for a quar­ter­back to look up field,” Hurst said. “Justin has re­ally im­proved his ac­cu­racy, and he’s find­ing his num­ber one op­tion deep. If that’s not there, he’s read­ing his check down op­tions and find­ing guys to pass to.”

Wray is com­plet­ing his passes at a 63 per­cent clip and has thrown fro more than 500 yards while rush­ing for an ad­di­tional 300. In all, he’s ac­counted for nine of­fen­sive touch­downs and even scored on a fum­ble re- cov­ery as he plays safety when needed.

When Hurst came to East­side four years ago, he said he re­mem­bers meet­ing Wray and his fa­ther and the con­ver­sa­tion they had about be­ing quar­ter­back. Since then Wray has made his mark as a pro­lific quar­ter­back and has his team poised to make a se­ri­ous run in the state play­offs.

“I thought com­ing into the sea­son that we had a chance for a spe­cial year,” Hurst said. “So far, we’ve played well, but we have a lot of foot­ball left. We don’t want to think about go­ing un­de­feated but it’s on the back of our mind. The just have to play each game as they come.”

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