?Cats, Cougars to battle for top spot in region

By Anthony Rhoads

Lovejoy vs. Newnan.

Even before the 2004 football season, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion tonight's game was going to be a marquee matchup between two very good football teams.

With both teams sporting 5-2 overall records and with both teams being undefeated in Region 4-AAAAA play, tonight's game has the potential to live up to its pre-season billing.

Lovejoy head coach Al Hughes certainly expects a tough contest.

"They're a great football team and they've been picked since day 1 to win our region," Lovejoy head coach Al Hughes said. "Coach (Robert) Herring and his staff have done a great job with Newnan. We can't worry about what Newnan will do – we have to concentrate on what Lovejoy has to do."

Both teams faltered early in the season.

Newnan dropped its first two games to LaGrange and Carrollton but has bounced back to win its last five games including region contests against Fayette County, Mundy's Mill and Union Grove.

Lovejoy has followed a similar script this season. Lovejoy opened the year with a 20-15 loss to Mt. Zion and a 47-0 pasting courtesy of North Clayton.

The Wildcats have clawed back to win five straight with victories over Riverdale, Morrow, Starr's Mill, Fayette County and Union Grove.

One key to the Wildcats' success has been quarterback senior Mario Fannin.

With Fannin at the helm, Lovejoy's offense has gotten back on track, leading Hughes to compare Fannin to Kisan Flakes, the former Lovejoy quarterback who is at the University of Illinois.

Hughes said Fannin has been running the team like Flakes did and Fannin not only has the talent but is just as intelligent and tough as Flakes was.

In last week's 33-14 victory over Union Grove, Fannin gained 108 rushing yards and scored a touchdown while completing 6 of 10 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown.