By Anthony Rhoads
The regular season was perfect for the Lovejoy Wildcats but they have higher aspirations.
The Wildcats completed a 10-0 regular season campaign Saturday with a 26-13 victory over Riverdale and now they're looking at the next step, to win their opening game of the Class AAAAA state playoffs.
As Region 4-AAAAA champions, the Wildcats enter the state playoffs as a No. 1 seed and will play the No. 4 seed out of Region 1-AAAAA. Coffee County is currently ranked fourth in Region 1 and if the team stays in that position, will travel to Clayton County to take on Lovejoy in the first round of the postseason.
"We've got to continue to execute," Lovejoy head coach Al Hughes said. "Our little P.E. offense has been fun but championships are won with defense. We're not finished quite yet, we still have things we want to accomplish this year."
The Lovejoy offense and defense have been operating on all cylinders this year. The offense is averaging 34.3 points per game while the defense has allowed only 10.6 points per game.
"We're really blessed," Hughes said. "It's all about the kids and the giant (former Lovejoy head coach) C.W. Campbell created and we're just trying to feed it."
Just how do you feed that giant and keep winning year after year? What does it take to have an undefeated season?
Hughes has not only coached the Lovejoy team to an undefeated regular season this year but he was an assistant in 1999 when the team went unbeaten in the regular season.
"The thing you have to have first is the kids," Hughes said. "You have to have the right kids. You have to have talented athletes and kids with character who have a winning attitude."
Hughes added that you also need good assistant coaches and on top of all that, you need luck and have things just fall into place.
"You have to have the good Lord's favor," he said. "There are times great players and coaches can't get it done. You can't do it by yourself. We're just proud of the kids' accomplishments and glad for the opportunity we have right now."
Hughes also credits the school administration and support from the community with helping the team be successful.
"Our administration has gone out of their way to be helpful," he said. "There are so many negative things going on in the world today, it's good to have people smile at what they see on the scoreboard and to do something that's positive. It means a lot to the kids."
Flashback to the 2002 postseason: Lovejoy began the 2003 Class AAAAA playoffs with a 43-3 dismantling of Lowndes at Twelve Oaks Stadium.
Lowndes led 3-0 early but Lovejoy came back with 43 unanswered points. Five different Lovejoy players scored with Tashard Choice lead with way with two TDs. Quarterback Kisan Flakes completed 9 of 17 passes for 156 yards and three TD passes.
Lovejoy traveled to Macon for round 2 and fell to Westside 35-13.
Westside's Travis Evans ran over the Lovejoy defense, gaining 269 yards on 32 carries.