By Rory Sharrock
Friday night football comes one day early this week as neighboring rivals Lovejoy (0-1) and Mundy's Mill (0-1) renew acquaintances Thursday at Twelve Oaks Stadium. Both schools, which are separated by a stone's throw down Tara Boulevard, showcase athletes who have grown up together and played against each other since little league.
"Mundy's Mill is a big rival because our kids live so close together," said Lovejoy head coach Al Hughes. "They all used to go to middle school together. A lot of those kids used to go to high school here. It's always a tremendous challenge to compete against those guys."
This Clayton County 'cat fight' features two teams trying to claw their way into the win column and avoid going 0-2 in 2007.
In week No. 1 the Lovejoy Wildcats traveled up to Sprayberry, but came up short against the Yellow Jackets, suffering a heart-breaking 6-0 defeat in the rain.
Mundy's Mill also faced a similar circumstance in its 2007 debut. The Tigers fell to 0-4 all-time versus Riverdale following a 16-13 loss. Raiders' kicker Mbongeni Ndlovu drilled home a 29-yard game-winning field goal as time expired to lift Riverdale to the victory.
Thursday's game features the fourth meeting between both schools with Lovejoy leading the all-time series 2-1. Last season, the Wildcats edged out Mundy's Mill 35-28.
After the dust settled following last Friday's games, both teams hit the practice field with a case of short-term memory as they look to put the lost behind them and move forward toward achieving their preseason goals.
"In this region you can't look back, you have to keep looking up," said Hughes. "There isn't anybody you have on the schedule that you can say we can win this one.
You better be ready to play every week in this region. You have to be prepared for what's coming up."
Over at Mundy's Mill, the players and coaching staff share the same sentiments. After a light workout on the field Wednesday, the team reviewed footage from last week's outing, looking for ways to improve and eliminate the costly mistakes that can come back to haunt them in future games.
"We came back out on Monday and Tuesday and went back to work hoping to minimize those mistakes and take away the penalties that hurt us in crucial situations," said Mundy's Mill head coach Kenneth Barrow.
When the whistle blows on Thursday, fans will be treated to an air show from each school.
The Wildcats will look to toss it around once again this week, relying on their spread offensive alignment to put up huge points on the scoreboard. Lovejoy's improved defense will be called upon heavily to contain Mundy's Mill quarterback Miguel Starks from running free and pitching the deep ball into the end zone.