Photo by Derrick Mahone
Lovejoy defensive players Terry Harper (52), Zane Fields and Nathaniel Norwood listen as the coaches make some second-quarter adjustments during the Wildcats’ 21-6 win over Warner Robins on Friday to each a trip to the Class AAAA championship.
With two minutes remaining in the third quarter of its Class AAAA semifinal game against Warner Robins, several Lovejoy players begin shouting, “We’ve going back to the Dome.”
The coaches loudly reminded the players that they still had another quarter to play.
“These last 12 minutes, give me everything you got,” Lovejoy wide receivers coach Eric Habelt shouted as the fourth quarter began.
It was in that final 12 minutes that the Wildcats offense, which was pushed around for the majority of the three quarters, began opening holes. Lovejoy would make enough first downs to run out the clock.
As the buzzer sounded at Twelve Oaks Stadium on a chilly late fall night Friday, the scoreboard read: Lovejoy 21, Warner Robins 6.
It’s back to the Georgia Dome for the sixth-ranked Wildcats as they attempt to end the championship drought in the Southern Crescent.
Lovejoy will be the first team from the area since the 1999 Mount Zion team to play for a state title. The area hasn’t experienced a championship since Morrow won the 1987 title.
Lovejoy adapted the theme, “Unfinished Business” after last season’s first-round playoff loss. One more game. One more win. And mission will be accomplished.
It won’t be an easy task for the Wildcats as they play top-ranked Tucker in the finals at the Dome.
But I wouldn’t count Lovejoy out.
Many didn’t think they would get this far.
The championship game is on a neutral field where the Wildcats boast a perfect 1-0 record. Earlier this season, Lovejoy spanked Morrow 71-0 in its only trip to the Dome earlier this season.
This time, there will be more at stake than just county bragging rights. The winner of the all-metro final of Lovejoy and Tucker can brag on being the best in the state.
Tucker will definitely put up a bigger fight than Morrow did in September.
Like Lovejoy, they boast a roster full of college prospects. The Tigers also place a lot of emphasis on their defense.
Next Friday’s showdown in the Dome could be a classic smash-mouth, defensive struggle.
Tucker or Lovejoy is just 48 minutes from hoisting a state championship trophy.
Derrick Mahone is sports editor of the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.