By Jeffery Armstrong
For the second straight week, the Lovejoy Wildcats football team will face another tough challenge to their undefeated season and their hold on first place in Region 4-AAAAA.
The 7-0 (4-0) Wildcats, ranked No. 6 in the latest Associated Press high school football poll, will face the poll's No. 10 team, the Newnan Cougars (8-0, 5-0), tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Twelve Oaks Stadium.
Last week, the Wildcats dispatched their first major challenger, defeating East Coweta on the road 28-17. As usual, Lovejoy got outstanding performances last week from its offensive line, quarterback Kisan Flakes, running back Aaron Williams and wide receiver Santini Washington. But it was the defense that kept Lovejoy in the game long enough to finally wear East Coweta down.
And those guys on defense are ready to face Newnan and its high-octane offense, which is led by senior quarterback Tyler Horne.
"Man, these are the type of games I live for," said Wildcats senior defensive end Jeremy Lomax. "Both teams are undefeated and Newnan is a passing team. It's great."
The Lovejoy defensive players really look forward to playing a team like Newnan n a team which is so similar to Lovejoy on offense.
"Basically, we need a break from the Wing-T," said senior middle linebacker Keith Boykins. "Every team we've faced throws the Wing-T at us."
"We've faced the Wing-T so much, I feel that even I can run it," said Lomax.
Senior defensive end Richard Carter said the key to stopping a potent offense like Newnan's is to get pressure up front in order to help the secondary.
"Newnan has three good receivers and our defensive backs don't need to be put under a lot of pressure," said Carter. "The d-line has to work on their escapes and get to the quarterback, forcing him to throw a tough pass."
Against East Coweta last week, Lovejoy spotted them a 14-0 lead in the first quarter before buckling down and holding them to only three more points. The defense, the No. 1 defense in the region, will try not to let Newnan get off to a quick start.
"What's funny is that the teams we've faced this year come up with something we have never seen before," said Boykins. "They dust off the old playbook and catch us completely off guard."
"Yeah, it's the Lovejoy special," said Carter. "But our coaching staff does a great job of making adjustments to their schemes."
"Once the coaches talk to us, we figure everything out and that's when we shut people down," Lomax said.
Lovejoy head coach Al Hughes said the key to facing a team so similar to themselves is to employ multiple coverages.
"We need to mix man coverage and zone coverage," he said. "We may blitz some, but not a whole lot."
Hughes said he is proud of his team's play this year, especially on the defensive side. He said the defense gets the most reps in practice and they work extremely hard.
"We emphasize winning a championship with a strong defense. It doesn't always look that way, but that's how we feel," Hughes said. "In this era of offensive football, it's hard to shut people down. So far, we're doing well."