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Newton County Schools’ complete recap of the 2022

Jul 11, 2023

COVINGTON, Ga. — From success on the field or court to upgrading athletic facilities, it has been a noteworthy year for the Newton County School System. At the helm of it all is Dr. Ashante Everett, NCSS’ Director of Student Services.

Among Everett's responsibilities in the position she's held since June 15, 2021, is overseeing the district's athletics program — which includes high schools and middle schools.

Upon reflection of the 2022-23 school year, Everett described the year as "very successful."

"Every year is unique when it comes to athletics. You can't always predict the competition or the potential of each team," Everett said. "Due to this, every year, we focus on creating unique, transformative experiences for our athletes, coaches, fans and the community. These experiences highlight the resilience and collective spirit of NCSS athletics."

Teams Success

In the fall, Alcovy and Eastside softball each made it to the state playoffs.

The Lady Tigers won the Region 3-AAAAAA championship and hosted Super Regionals. The Lady Eagles, as the No. 4 seed from Region 8-AAAAA, advanced to Columbus in the state tournament as well.

Eastside's and Newton's football team qualified for their postseason. The Eagles have made it six straight years while the Rams advanced for the 11th time in 12 seasons.

In addition to their football teams, Newton and Eastside boys basketball teams reached the playoff mark. As the No. 3 seed, the Eagles upset No. 2 Calhoun on the road and concluded in the Sweet Sixteen. The Rams, on the other hand, made it to the Elite Eight after finishing as Region 4-AAAAAAA runners up for the third consecutive season.

Moving on to the spring season, Alcovy and Eastside girls soccer teams made it to the postseason. The Lady Tigers ended a six-year playoff drought and the Lady Eagles made it to the Sweet Sixteen of the Class AAAAA playoffs.

Alcovy baseball also reached the postseason for the second straight season after missing the mark from 2013-2020.

Middle school athletic programs made some noise, too, in their arena.

For instance, Liberty Middle School's football team reigned as NewRock League champions. Indian Creek Middle's softball team claimed the top spot in middle school softball. And, lastly, Veterans Memorial Middle took home the top spot in middle school soccer.

For Everett, that is a small sample size to gauge the department's overall accomplishments.

"These are just a few examples of the success stories this year," Everett said.

Individual Accomplishments

Included on those teams were special performances by many individuals who recorded some notable accomplishments.

Toward the top of that list was Newton boys basketball star Stephon Castle — a five-star recruit — being named a McDonald's All-American.

Newton's Kenton George and Eastside's Grayson Poynter made noise in cross country, too.

Following that, seven Eastside wrestlers compete at state with Jordan Hittle and Nolan Christian leading the way. Five Newton wrestlers performed on the big stage, too, with Ruby Edwards and Marshall Burton registering high finishes.

In February, Murphy O’Brien represented the Eagles at the state swim meet in February.

In track and field, competitors like Amoi Hagans and Kam’Aron Patterson shined at the state meet for Newton. Then, Eastside's relay teams, featuring players such as Jordan Edwards and Jayda Duplessis, recorded solid outings.

Additionally, 26 student-athletes signed national letters of intent to further their careers at the college level.

3-star linebacker Jean Claude Joseph III became the first Eastside Eagle player ever to enroll early and signed with Tulane football. Jakai Newton, a 4-star recruit from Newton High, signed a scholarship to play basketball at Indiana starting next year. Tajah Jackson will continue her girls basketball career after her graduation from Alcovy to go play with Huntingdon College.

And those are just naming a few of the 26 student-athletes who secured their college careers.

Everett believes all the signings — plus other accomplishments — display the area's improving individual talent that has been on a continuous rise as of late.

"The level of talent continues to grow in Newton County. Many talented athletes have been recognized across the state and nation," Everett said. "Additionally, we see more and more of our student-athletes signing national letters of intent and planning to continue playing sports at the collegiate level."

Facility Upgrades

Another point of emphasis concerning the 2022-23 school year in Newton County is the amount of athletic facility upgrades.

Most notably is the transition from natural grass to artificial turf inside Sharp Stadium. The 67-year old stadium received the facelift from January 26 to May 15 and was done by Sports Turf Company.

The first events — Alcovy, Eastside and Newton high schools’ graduation — were held from May 24-26. And, in the fall, each of the schools’ football teams will now host their home games on the new playing surface.

Though turf installation has gotten a lot of attention since it was approved on Nov. 15, 2022, that is not the only facility upgrade done.

For instance, Sharp Stadium's lighting was updated with the installation of LED lights.

Also, ground was broken to construct Clements Middle School's softball field — which will make it where all Newton County middle schools will now have their own softball field.

Replacement of Alcovy High School's track surface is underway as well, which concludes the list of athletic facility updates.

Everett credited voters’ approval of the Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) for making these projects possible. And, now that they are either finished or in progress, Everett feels there is an elevated level of enthusiasm surrounding Newton County athletics.

"There is excitement, and I am so grateful to the community for supporting ESPLOST, which makes these improvements possible. Improvements to our facilities would not be possible without the support of Newton County voters," Everett said. "These improvements bring excitement to players, spectators, coaches and the community at large. These improvements allow our students additional access to artificial turf, upgraded field lighting, laser-graded football fields and new track surfaces. "

Future Outlook

Looking toward the 2023-24 school year, Everett desires to see all athletic programs build off of the 2022-23 successes and developments.

Everett pointed to the relationship between the school system and the entire Newton County community as a difference maker for each athlete and program.

And, as far as Everett is concerned, building on the past year's success stories begins with that partnership.

"Collaboration and synergy between the school system and the community are crucial for the overall well-being and success of athletes," Everett said. "When these two entities work together effectively, it can lead to numerous benefits for athletes, families and the community as a whole.

"I am looking forward to seeing all of our athletes compete and capitalize on the successes we saw in 2022-2023."