By Jeffery Armstrong
Lovejoy Wildcats head football coach Al Hughes wasn't pleased with his team's performance in a scrimmage loss to Northside-Warner Robins last week.
What a difference a week makes.
The third-year coach was happy with his team in their 35-0 scrimmage win over the Morrow Mustangs Friday night at Twelve Oaks Stadium.
"Last week was our first week on the field and the guys may have been a little intimidated out there," said Hughes. "We're very pleased with tonight's win. We still have some work to do, but we did a good job."
Hughes said he was happy his team "stepped up and hit folks" Friday night. The Lovejoy offensive line was the first to hit people, opening big holes for junior running back Mark Pettaway in the first quarter. On the game's second play from scrimmage, Pettaway dashed 60 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
Pettaway was the offensive player of the game, scoring three touchdowns and a two-point conversion. He rushed for two TDs and also caught a 23-yard TD pass from senior quarterback Kisan Flakes.
"I was ready to play," said Pettaway. "The Morrow guys were telling each other to stop me, but thank God they didn't."
The Lovejoy defense was strong, harassing Morrow quarterback Charles Gates and getting big hits all game long. Lovejoy linebacker David Mahone played well, blocking a punt which was returned for a TD, deflecting a pass from Gates and making big tackles.
Wish you were here: Pettaway transferred to Lovejoy from Morrow, but didn't play for the Mustangs last year due to academic problems and his upcoming move to Lovejoy. Pettaway is a Detroit native, having lived in the Southern Crescent for three years.
"He's going to be a special player," said Hughes.
Remembering No. 51: The Lovejoy Wildcats hung the No. 51 jersey of Darren Brooks on the stadium fence behind the team bench Friday to honor their former teammate who was killed in an auto accident on the way to school in 2002. He would've been a junior. Lovejoy has dedicated this season to Brooks and will carry his jersey to every game.
"Darren was a fine young man and a vital part of this team," Hughes said. "He had a lot of close friends here. He loved life and he loved Wildcat football."
We've got to work: The Mustangs couldn't get much going offensively, but there were some positives for them. Junior running back Marhna Ferrell ran well most of the night and senior wideout Benton Smith gained 20 yards on a reverse in the third quarter. Smith also caught a 19-yard pass from Gates and would've scored, but he lost the ball out of bounds inside the 10-yard line.
"We have some work to do," said Morrow head coach Dorwyn Lyles. "We had some good moments, but we have to prepare better and get some consistency."
Bone crushers: Lovejoy did hit some folks tonight, but the hits of the night went to a couple of Morrow junior varsity players. Freshman Reginald Williams and sophomore Keon Grant had superb hits on Lovejoy quarterback Joel "Guns" Hutcheson that drew major reactions from the crowd.