By Josh Kraeger
Special to the Daily
The Lovejoy Wildcats started off their season with a bang against the Mundy's Mill Tigers in a 27-0 victory Friday night at Twelve Oaks Stadium. This game marked the first of what is to be an annual Big Cat Classic, and tradition was started in style. Lovejoy's offense featured a staggering rush attack, rushing for almost 200 yards and three touchdowns.
The story behind the offensive onslaught was seniors Lamont Hardy and Rayshad Samuel. Hardy, a highly-talented offensive lineman who is considering North Carolina State as an option after Lovejoy, cleared the path for Lovejoy to run over the Tigers all night long. Samuel was an integral part of the Wildcats balanced rushing attack, rushing for 92 yards and making a five yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to put the game in the bag for Lovejoy.
This was a good way to start the season for the Wildcats, who in past years have not fared so well.
"It feels great because this game is what we really needed; a fresh start like we haven't had in years," Hardy said. The precedent has been set, and the players have high expectations for the season. "We're going for a state championship, no doubt," Samuel said. The Wildcats have a certain chemistry that sets them apart from other teams and that was evident from their play Friday night. "Our expectations are real high, never settle for less, and what sets us apart is our togetherness, by working together everyday we've realized we're all brothers," Hardy said.
The Wildcats have made some changes in their training regimen, which Hardy attributes to their early success.
"We started a running program which has helped us a lot, and going to camp this summer really made us come together even more," Hardy said. The feeling was mutual for Samuel, who also thought the team has made big strides in coming together. "The big difference this season is our teamwork, we're a family, and we've just got to keep treating this team like family," Samuel said. The teamwork was evident, as Lovejoy managed to dominate the Tigers in every aspect of the game, including penalty yards. Despite the Tigers drawing penalty after penalty from the Wildcats, Mundy's Mill was not able to overcome the strong defensive line, anchored by seniors David Washington and Josh Walker. The defensive line was complimentary to the Wildcats' secondary, which was accented by two interceptions by juniors Rico McWilliams and Dushonta Broughton. Hard work and preparation is key to Lovejoy's continued success, and this is recognized by players and coaches alike. "We're doing a good job so far of preparing by watching film from games and figuring out what we need to do to win," Samuel said. If the Wildcats can perform throughout the season like they did tonight, success is imminent. "We might go all the way this year, we've got a few wrinkles to iron out, but once we do, we're going to state," Hardy said.