By Jeffery Armstrong
The annual Georgia Athletic Coaches Association (GACA) North-South Football Game has always been a showcase for the top senior high school players in the state.
This year, four Southern Crescent athletes are part of this elite group of all-star football players; two of them are on the South's roster and two have made the North roster. Lovejoy senior defensive back Keith Fitzhugh and lineman Chris Scott are on the South squad, which will be coached by Charles Flowers of Shaw. North Clayton wide receiver/defensive back Dirk Engram and Mt. Zion linebacker/running back Jamaal Clark are on the North team, which will be coached by Dexter Wood of Buford.
The North-South game will be Tuesday, Dec. 21 at 2 p.m. at Memorial Stadium in Columbus, with tickets going for $5. The game will be televised by Comcast Sports Southeast (CSS) and shown on tape-delay on Monday, Dec. 27.
Lovejoy head football coach Al Hughes is happy to have two players from his team make the North-South team for the second straight year. Last year, Lovejoy linemen Jeremy Lomax and Anthony Parker made the team.
"We're very excited here at Lovejoy and we're pleased with what those guys have accomplished," Hughes said. "It's quite an honor for Lovejoy. It shows we're doing the best we can over here."
Fitzhugh, who's verbally committed to Mississippi State, has started every game at Lovejoy since the middle of his freshman year. He totaled 38 tackles, 26 assists and two interceptions from his cornerback position. Hughes said his numbers are down from last year, but offenses stayed away from Fitzhugh in 2004.
Scott, who's list of colleges to attend boils down to Georgia, LSU, Tennessee, Florida and Nebraska, had a blocking average of 90 percent and 26 knockdown blocks as an offensive lineman for the 7-3 Wildcats.
"Chris did very well in a couple of big games we played in this year," Hughes said.
Engram helped lead the North Clayton Eagles to a 10-0 regular-season record and at one point during the season, he scored a touchdown in five straight games. He also had three straight games with a punt return or a kickoff return touchdown and made spectacular catches at the wide receiver spot.
"Dirk is very deserving of this - this is a great way to cap the end of his senior season," said North Clayton head football coach Don Shockley. "He's very happy about being on the team and we're all going to go down and watch him play."
Clark was a four-year starter for the Mt. Zion Bulldogs, playing both ways with relentless effort. He made several big runs in key games and made a big impact on defense for Mt. Zion, which went 8-2 in the regular season.
"I'm very proud of Jamaal and I'm glad he was able to make this team. He has a chance to be a Division I player," said Mt. Zion head football coach Jackie Green. "We played him at inside linebacker this year so he didn't get a lot of sacks but he still had a good year. He also runs the ball well."