By Jeffery Armstrong
Lovejoy Wildcats head football coach Al Hughes remarked on Friday that he's just feeding the "giant" created by former head coach C.W. Campbell.
It's obvious that Hughes is feeding the giant well, because the Wildcats were extremely dominant Friday night, drubbing the McIntosh Chiefs 41-0 on the road to clinch the Region 4-AAAAA championship.
Lovejoy improves to 9-0 (6-0 in the region) and is one win away from posting the team's second undefeated regular season. Lovejoy went 10-0 in 1999.
McIntosh (3-7, 2-5) played hard, especially in the first half, but they were overmatched by a much bigger and faster Lovejoy team. McIntosh senior quarterback Taylor Lee didn't play because of a broken wrist, so the job of moving the ball for the Chiefs fell to sophomore quarterback Drew Webb and freshman signal-caller Preston Reed.
It's fitting that the game was played on Halloween night, because the Lovejoy defense was a nightmare for those two players. Wildcat defenders Richard Carter, Robert Hall, Gabriel Crews and several others harassed the Chief quarterbacks all night long, making several big hits and plays along the way.
The Lovejoy offense started the scoring when quarterback Kisan Flakes (6-of-9 for 171 yards and one INT) threw a 50-yard TD strike to Vernard Hoover for the game's first score with 7:12 left in the first quarter. The PAT made it 7-0.
Lovejoy scored again minutes later when McIntosh muffed the snap on a punt attempt and Hall recovered the ball in the end zone for a 14-0 lead.
The McIntosh defense stopped Lovejoy on downs at the start of the second quarter and the offense actually moved the ball on the Wildcats. Thanks to hard running by Chiefs senior running back Thomas Beck, McIntosh was in the Lovejoy red zone, threatening to score.
On first down at the Lovejoy 16, McIntosh's Webb threw a perfect pass right into the arms of Wildcat DB Keith Fitzhugh, who raced 95 yards up the left sideline for a touchdown and the ensuing two-point conversion made the score 22-0.
Fitzhugh also scored a rushing TD from 11 yards out in the second half.
"I was really tired after my interception return. I thought I was going to throw up," said Fitzhugh, a junior. "We came out mentally and physically prepared tonight. Coach Hughes preached to us all week not to take McIntosh lightly."
Lovejoy also got touchdown runs from Mario Fanin and Vincent Brookins to complete the scoring.
"I'm really proud of the guys. We came off back-to-back emotional wins, but we didn't let down against McIntosh," Hughes said.