Photo by Derrick Mahone
Lovejoy’s defense will need another big effort from defensive end Veion Robinson (32) and linebacker Nathaniel Norwood when the sixth-ranked Wildcats host Ware County tonight in a Class AAAA quarterfinals game.
Coming into the Class AAAA playoffs, Lovejoy, and Region 4-AAAA, had a lot to prove.
After last season’s dismal showing in the playoffs, the Wildcats had to try to earn some respect on a state-wide level.
Lovejoy cruised through the region last season to earn the top seed, only to suffer a first-round loss at home. In fact, the region was swept and many questions were raised about the league since it plays a 10-game region schedule.
Like last season, Lovejoy cruised through the region undefeated.
But now, the sixth-ranked Wildcats are enjoying some playoff success.
Lovejoy is in the quarterfinals for the first time in school history as it hosts No. 9 Ware County tonight at Twelve Oaks Stadium.
“We are ready for this,” Lovejoy senior defensive back Rico McWilliams said. “We are the first team in the history of Lovejoy to play in the quarterfinals. We have put in a lot of hard work to get to this point.”
While the quarterfinals is unchartered territory for Lovejoy, Ware County is used to deep playoff runs. The Gators have been to the quarterfinals three of the last five seasons. In 2007, the Waycross school played for a state title, losing 20-14 at home to Northside High of Warner Robins.
While Lovejoy doesn’t have the experience of playing in the big playoff game, the players say that shouldn’t be a problem.
“We know what we are up against,” McWilliams said. “Each game you play in the playoffs is an elimination game. You have to be ready.”
This will be the second straight week that Ware County has been on the road. In the past two weeks, the Gators, the No. 2 seed from Region 2-AAAA, have made the five-hour trek to the metro Atlanta area.
Last week, Ware County defeated Heritage-Conyers 24-3 to earn another trip to North Georgia.
Lovejoy is hoping that the Gators will be a little road-fatigued from consecutive long trips.
“I’m hoping that it will be to our advantage that they have to make a long trip,” Lovejoy senior defensive back Jermaine Hough said. “Hopefully it will take some time for them to get their legs up under them. I think we also play well at home.”
The Wildcats have only had three games away from Twelve Oaks Stadium this season, and only one (Georgia Dome) outside of Clayton County. In comparison, Ware County has had to play seven times on the road.
“We are treating this game no different than the rest that we have played,” McWilliams said. “We know what is at stake. We came into the season with some high expectations.”