By Derrick Mahone
North Clayton's Amarlo Herrera and Vic Hardison of Lovejoy swept the Region 4-AAAA player of the year honors, which was selected by the region's 11 coaches last week.
Herrera was named the defensive player of the year while Hardison was named the top offensive player in the region. By virtue of his team winning the region championship, Lovejoy coach Al Hughes was named the league's top coach.
In helping North Clayton to its third straight state playoff appearance, Herrera had 151 tackles and 12 tackle for losses in addition to two sacks. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound linebacker also had two interceptions. He has a non-binding verbal commitment to attend Georgia next fall.
Hardison is a three-year starter for the Wildcats, who finished the season with a 10-1 record. In leading Lovejoy back to the playoffs for the first time in three years, Hardison completed 52 percent of his passes for 780 yards and eight touchdowns. He also rushed for 75 yards and four touchdowns.
Joining Hardison from Lovejoy on the first team offense is tight end Ashard Jackson, running back Travis Curtis, linemen Lamont Hardy and Jamal Covington.
Other area players on the first team offense are wide receiver Khalil Stinson, North Clayton; running back Quartterrio Morgan, Mount Zion; tackle Garrius Hudson, Jonesboro; guard Elijah Cantrell, North Clayton; and center Reggie Stevens, Mundy's Mill.
North Clayton's Michael Ross was chosen as the first team athlete.
On the defensive side of the ball, Herrera is joined by teammate defensive end Jack Ndem.
Lovejoy placed defensive linemen David Washington and defensive backs Rico McWilliams and Nick Smith on the first team after leading a defense that gave up an average of only nine points per game last season.