Photo by Derrick Mahone
Lovejoy defensive coordinator Kevin Jones has been working all week to come up with a gameplan to slow down a Tucker offense that is averaging 300 yards and 45 points per game.
This has been the busiest week of Al Hughes’ 35-year career. And the Lovejoy coach is enjoying every moment of it.
Hughes’ cellphone has rung constantly with well-wishers and media requests. In between his teaching duties, he has found time to watch some game film and game plan for the Wildcats’ biggest game in school history.
Lovejoy, the sixth-ranked team in Class AAAA, will take on top-ranked Tucker tonight in the finals at the Georgia Dome.
“It is fun,” Hughes said about this past work week. “I don’t mind it at all. We’ve waited a long time for this moment, and we are enjoying every minute of it.”
This will be the Wildcats’ second trip to the Dome this season. Lovejoy defeated winless Morrow 71-0 in the Great American Football Classic in September. The Wildcats will face a more formidable opponent this time in Tucker, which is in the state title game for the second time in four years.
Tucker won the 2008 title under current coach Franklin Stephens.
Lovejoy opened in 1988, and is playing in its first state title game. This is the first time since 1999, when Mount Zion lost at Oconee County, that a team from Clayton County has played for a title. Morrow’s 1987 title is the last one won by a county team.
Excitement has been at an all-time throughout the county.
“I think it’s really good for the community of Lovejoy and great for our kids,” Hughes said.
“It’s been real hyped around the school,” Lovejoy senior offensive tackle Jamal Covington said. “Everybody is on board about this. There is a lot of excitement in the atmosphere. This is the opportunity of a lifetime, because you will never get the chance to play for a state title in your senior year again.”