By Anthony Rhoads
The Boston Red Sox had the ?Curse of the Bambino' but in local sports, the Lovejoy Wildcats might suffer from the ?Curse of the Second Round.'
Like the Red Sox, the Wildcats have been successful and have been close to breaking through but just haven't been able to get over the hump.
The Lovejoy Wildcats football team has done many things on the football field since the program's first varsity season in 1990.
The Wildcats have gone undefeated in the regular season twice (1999 and 2003), they've won three region titles (1999, 2003 and 2004) and they've been to the state playoffs seven times.
But there's one thing they haven't been able to do ? make it past the second round of the playoffs.
In 1997 Lovejoy made it to the playoffs for the first time in school history. They had to beat Douglass 7-0 in a mini-game to qualify for state and then were knocked out 13-10 by Sequoyah in the first round.
The Wildcats returned to the playoffs in 1998, going 6-4 in the regular season but again, they lost in the first round. That season, Northside-Warner Robins beat Lovejoy 45-7 in the opening round.
In 1999, Lovejoy dominated its way to a 10-0 regular season, winning the Region 4-AAAA championship. That year, the Wildcats won their first playoff game, a 38-6 victory over Lakeside-Evans. In round 2, Lovejoy's season ended with a 24-0 loss to Lowndes.
After failing to make the state tournament in 2000, Lovejoy returned to the postseason in 2001. The Wildcats opened with a 39-33 victory over Bradwell Institute but Lowndes again stopped Lovejoy in the second. That year, Lowndes beat Lovejoy 35-21.
In 2002, Lovejoy was able to get a little revenge on Lowndes, rolling to a 43-3 victory in the first round of the playoffs. In the second round, Lovejoy traveled to Westside-Macon and lost 35-13.
Last year, Lovejoy enjoyed its second undefeated season in school history and opened the playoffs with a victory over Coffee County.
In the second round, Lovejoy again met Westside-Macon but this time it was at Twelve Oaks Stadium. The home-field advantage helped, but Westside-Macon still managed to beat Lovejoy by a touchdown.
Early in the season this year, it looked like Lovejoy was not going to be a playoff-bound football team. They opened with losses to Mt. Zion and North Clayton but bounced back to go 7-1 the rest of the way.
In the end, they captured the Region 4-AAAAA title and earned a No. 1 seed in the playoffs. Last week, they beat Redan in the first round and this Friday will play host to Houston County in round 2.
Will this be the year Lovejoy can get past the second round?
If the Wildcats, fans or other folks have any doubts, just look at the Boston Red Sox.
The Red Sox broke their curse and won the World Series for the first time since 1918 and if that can happen, who knows what the future holds for the Lovejoy Wildcats?
Anthony Rhoads is a sports writer for the Daily and his column appear on Wednesdays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .