Photo by Derrick Mahone
Lovejoy defensive coordinator Kevin Jones makes some sideline adjustments during last week’s Class AAAA second-round playoff win at Twelve Oaks Stadium. The sixth-ranked Wildcats will take on Ware County Friday in the quarterfinals.
If Lovejoy and Eagle’s Landing Christian decided to send out thank you notes this week, their upcoming opponents would top the list.
Both teams are able to host quarterfinal round games on Friday because of their opponents.
When Ware County, a No. 2 seed from Region 2-AAAA, defeated Heritage-Conyers last week, it allowed Lovejoy to host its third straight playoff game. Had Heritage won, the two schools would have determined home-field advantage by a coin flip.
Lovejoy is thankful it will not have to make the nearly five-hour trek to Waycross.
ELCA won its coin flip with Seminole County when Seminole’s coach, Alan Ingram, went against his “gut feeling” and called heads.
Now, the Indians must load the bus and make a five-hour drive to McDonough.
“I always call tails, but my assistant coaches and everyone else told me to call heads, so that’s what I did,” Ingram told the Albany Herald.
But this hasn’t dampened the spirits of the Seminole County squad, which is making its first-ever appearance in the quarterfinals. The fifth-ranked Indians have won 11 straight games since a season-opening loss.
This will be ELCA’s second straight quarterfinal appearance. Like Seminole County, the fourth-ranked Chargers have won 11 straight games.
Last season, the Chargers lost at Clinch County in the quarterfinals.
This will be Lovejoy’s first appearance in the quarterfinals after it won its 12th straight game with a victory over Kell last week. Last season, Ware eliminated Region 4-AAAA foe North Clayton in the first round of the playoffs at Southern Crescent Stadium.
Ware County, which is coached by Ed Dudley, is in the quarterfinals for the third time in five seasons. Dudley is the former coach at Cobb County’s Walton High.
The winner of Friday’s matchup will take on the Warner Robins/East Paulding winner in the semifinals.
Lovejoy has the top-ranked defense in Class AAAA, allowing an average of 3.8 points per game.
A 39-yard fumble return by linebacker Eugene Fuller with 9:27 remaining gave the Wildcats a 15-10 win over Kell. Lovejoy stopped Kell’s final drive with a sack and fumble recovery.
“There was this wise old coach that said defense wins championships,” Lovejoy coach Al Hughes said. “God bless our defensive staff. They did a great job, and thank the Lord for our offensive coaches, too. They all did a great job in the win.”
ELCA will need a big defensive effort to stop Seminole County, which is led by running back Chris Brown, who scored on runs of 89, 73 and 15 yards and earned his 270 yards on 23 carries.