By Anthony Rhoads
Ten wins, zero losses.
Going through a regular season unbeaten doesn't happen very often but the Lovejoy Wildcats accomplished that feat Saturday night with a 26-13 victory over Riverdale at Tara Stadium.
"It's not me," Lovejoy head coach Al Hughes said. "It's because of a coaching staff and great football players. It's not about the ?Xs and Os' but the ?Johnnies and Joes.' I'm so blessed and fortunate to be here. It's all them."
This year is the first time Hughes has been head coach of a team that has gone undefeated but he was offensive coordinator for head coach C.W. Campbell at Lovejoy in 1999 when the team went undefeated. That year, Mt. Zion also went undefeated, winning 14 straight games before falling in the Class AAA state finals.
In Saturday night's victory, quarterback Kisan Flakes led the way, completing 13 of 18 passes for 167 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed 18 times for 129 yards.
"I feel blessed," he said. "We work hard every day and this year we really came together as a team."
Flakes' favorite target Saturday was Santini Washington, who caught four passes for 58 yards and one touchdown. Dennis Thomas added three catches for 39 yards and a touchdown and Aaron Williams racked up 42 yards on three catches. Williams also rushed for 62 yards with a touchdown.
"We worked hard all year long because this was one of our goals," Thomas said. "Now our goal is to take it to the Dome and bring a championship back here."
Riverdale (6-4) did its best to spoil Lovejoy's bid for a perfect Riverdale season.
Lovejoy led 14-7 at the half and about midway through the third quarter, Riverdale quarterback Rashad Nettles connected with Kevin McCullough on a 14-yard touchdown pass to bring the score to 14-13.
Nettles completed 6 of 11 passes for 123 yards and McCollough caught three passes for 83 yards.
Senior fullback Anthony Edwards led the Raiders in rushing with 71 yards. Mario Swann added 63 yards on the ground.
Lovejoy, the Region 4-AAAAA champions, will enter the Class AAAAA state tournament as the No. 1 seed out of Region 4. Riverdale will also be going to the tournament as a No. 4 seed.
"It's (going undefeated) was a goal we set all season long," Lovejoy senior offensive lineman Anthony Parker said. "We've worked hard all season to get here and now we're 10-0. We're ready to take on the world."
Scoring by quarters
L - 0 14 6 6 - 26
R - 0 7 6 0 - 13
L - Aaron Williams 4 run 10:30 (Rod Ferreira kick)
L - Kisan Flakes to Mark Pettaway 7 pass 7:32 (Ferreira kick)
R - Anthony Edwards 3 run 6:15 (Abdul Cole kick)
R - Rashad Nettles to Kevin McCullough 14 pass 6:56 (kick failed)
L - Flakes to Dennis Thomas 18 pass 1:41 (kick failed)
L - Flakes to Santini Washington 20 pass 5:29 (run failed)