By Rory Sharrock
Lovejoy High School is located on McDonough Road, but the way its football season has panned out thus far, it feels like the Wildcats play on Wall Street with stocks rising and falling on a weekly basis.
The team entered camp full of optimism with a low fixed interest rate, but the market quickly crashed after an 0-4 start. However, their stock recovered following back-to-back regional wins over Jonesboro and Riverdale.
Now, the true test of their value will be on display when they face defending sub-region champion Griffin tonight at Twelve Oaks Stadium.
Griffin (5-1, 3-0) enters tonight's contest with a confident swagger in its steps. Last season they went undefeated before losing to Creekside in the second-round of the playoffs. The Bears are also in the midst 22-game region winning streak. Their last regional lost came way back on Nov. 7, 2003 versus Shaw.
Yet, with all of that history starring them in the face, Lovejoy appears unfazed as they await the coin flip to continue their surge up the standings. Last week the Wildcats posted their highest scoring output of the season when they blew out Riverdale 31-10.
Senior running backs Damieon Peterson and Tim Jackson had a field day last week as Peterson tallied 239 yards on 20 carries, while Jackson, who missed five games with an injured ankle, rushed for two scores along with one touchdown reception.
This game plan worked to perfection against Riverdale and could be a handy tool on the field versus Griffin.
"The beauty of our offense is we're going to scratch where it itches. If we can run it, we're going to keep running it. We'd like to be about 50-50 and that's what the plan is" said offensive coordinator Craig Chatman. "In the past, we'd line up with five wide and set our formation to where we could throw it to anybody at anytime. But with the personal we have this year, we had to rethink some of the things we've done. Lately we've been running it and now everybody's crowding the box. So we're just going to see how they want to play it and do what they let us do."
On offense, Lovejoy must minimize the penalties and turnovers that were rampant during its game with Riverdale. Although they were able to overcome those mistakes, they can't afford to shoot themselves in the foot against a superior club like Griffin will cost them dearly on the scoreboard.
Lovejoy's offensive line led by standout left tackle Andre Harris will have their hands full blocking senior defensive end Toby Jackson and senior defensive tackle Rashad McMullens.
Both players provide a hefty one-two punch up front and will try their best to stuff the run as well as force Wildcats' quarterback Kyle Lacy to rush his throws.
"We got everybody healthy for a change on offense. Offensively, we have more weapons now so hopefully we'll be able to put some points on the board," said Lovejoy head coach Al Hughes.
"We don't worry to much about the other guy. We have to take care of our business first and prepare for what we do best."
Lovejoy last defeated Griffin 37-30 on Sept. 29, 1999 at home.