By Jeffery Armstrong
As the Lovejoy Wildcats football team hit the practice field on Tuesday afternoon, they found themselves in an unfamiliar position.
They are actually 0-1.
The Wildcats haven't started a football season with a loss since a 38-14 loss to East Coweta in 1995. They had won eight straight opening games until their 20-15 loss to the Mt. Zion Bulldogs last Friday. Lovejoy head coach Al Hughes believes his team is focused on getting back into the win column.
"Well, we'll show up, I know that," Hughes said. "People have been saying we're not the same Lovejoy. Well, if that's the case, the best thing we can do is show up."
Hughes said his team needed to be a bit more patient in their game against Mt. Zion.
"We had chances to win that game. We got out to the 9-0 lead and then Mt. Zion caught us in some breakdowns," he said. "We just weren't patient later in the game. We could've taken the lead, but we didn't play very well. Give Mt. Zion credit n they played well."
Hughes said his team has been working hard as usual in practice and he's impressed with the defense.
"Our defense is pretty tough n they're athletic and they're getting better and better," said Hughes. "Our offense was a bit inconsistent, but they're coming around now."
Hughes admitted that the Wildcats miss standout quarterback Kisan Flakes on offense. Flakes, currently a freshman at the University of Illinois, was not only a great athlete at quarterback but he was a great field general, taking the lead when the Wildcats needed crucial first downs and scores.
"Sure we miss Kisan, but our quarterbacks now just need some time under their belts," Hughes said. "We are starting to have fun now as we practice. We're looking forward to playing North Clayton n the coaches are ready to coach and the kids are ready to play. It's just a matter of getting our swagger back."
The Wildcats need to be ready to face the North Clayton Eagles, who are probably have their own swagger now after beating Riverdale 31-24 last week. The Wildcats will have to try and contain Eagles sophomore Morgan Burnett, who had a fumble recovery and an interception while playing safety and ran for a touchdown and passed for two more TDs at the quarterback position against Riverdale.
"I've seen Burnett in person and on film and he's real special," Hughes said. "We're going to try to limit his big plays as much as possible. We've got to take care of our own business in order to win."