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Jonesboro, Lovejoy meet in key region game

Photo by Derrick Mahone Lovejoy's Rico McWilliams (left) will lead his team against Jonesboro and do-it-all junior Cameron Sutton in a Region 4-AAAA contest at Twelve Oaks Stadium. 

Photo by Derrick Mahone Lovejoy's Rico McWilliams (left) will lead his team against Jonesboro and do-it-all junior Cameron Sutton in a Region 4-AAAA contest at Twelve Oaks Stadium. 

It's not just that Lovejoy and Jonesboro are undefeated, or that the winner of Friday's game control their destiny in Region 4-AAAA. Hype has swelled over the individual matchup between Lovejoy's Rico McWilliams and Jonesboro's Cameron Sutton, two of the area's most explosive players set to go head-to-head. Sports editor Derrick Mahone goes inside the matchup to see who has the edge.

Rico McWilliams, Lovejoy

Who is McWilliams? Family moved to Clayton County after Hurricane Katrina hit the New Orleans area in 2005. Rated as one of the top senior defensive back prospects in the state by several recruiting services. Has drawn the attention of several college coaches with about 17 offers, but has said he will sign with South Carolina. Missed the last five games of the 2010 season with a torn ACL that has now fully healed.

Scouting McWilliams: A dangerous threat on offense because of his speed and catching ability. On the defensive end, has the ability to get his hands on a receiver to disrupt his route. Has the height (6-foot-1), speed and jumping ability to cover the bigger receivers.

What makes McWilliams special? Aside from speed and ability, he has that it factor that separates him from other players. His presence on the field commands the respect of the opponent. McWilliams is not cocky, but he has that assuring confidence that he can make the play.

Leadership ability: On the field, in the locker room and in the hallways, McWilliams is a leader. While he sets a good example through his actions, he is a vocal leader on whom coaches can rely. Projects a positive demeanor that bodes well with his teammates and coaches. Can be vocal when the situation calls for it.

McWilliams on the matchup: “They say he is supposed to be one of the best. I’ve watched film on him all this week. They are going to get the ball to him, but it’s my job to keep him out of the end zone. It is going to be a good match. I’m definitely looking forward to it.”

Lovejoy defensive coordinator Kevin Jones on McWilliams: “In my opinion, he is among the elite defensive backs in the state. He was born with some God-given talent, and he has put in the work to get better. He is fast, tall, lean and strong. He has that will to compete and be the best.”

Cameron Sutton, Jonesboro

Who is Sutton? When the junior wide receiver/defensive back arrived on the Jonesboro campus three years ago, he brought some high expectations. A fundamentally sound player with speed and ability, coaches just needed to make a few “minor tweaks” to prepare him for varsity-level competition. He has blossomed into one of the biggest playmaking threats in the area. He is also a standout guard on the basketball team and possibly a draft prospect as a centerfielder in baseball.

Scouting Sutton: He is always one move away from making a big play. A fluid athlete who makes everything looks easy. He must always be accounted for when on the offensive side of the ball. Sutton is not interested in padding his stats, but puts winning above individual accomplishments.

What makes Sutton special? Simply put — he is a playmaker. He will line up anywhere on the field offensively. The Cardinals love to get him the ball in space, because very few defenders can bring him down in a one-on-one situation.

Leadership ability: Since he began playing varsity as a freshman, Sutton has always been surrounded by upperclassmen. He mostly leads by example than with his voice. However, when the situation calls for it, Sutton will voice his opinion.

Sutton on the matchup: “It is going to be intense. I know of him. I’m excited about the opportunity that we have. It should be a good matchup. This is definitely a matchup that everyone has been talking about.”

Jonesboro offensive coordinator Nate Wardlaw on Sutton: “He is a dream to coach. He wants to succeed within the team concept. He understands his role on the team. When we need a big play, we can always count on Cam.”

Stats

McWilliams

7 receptions for 186 yards and three touchdowns. On defense, 20 tackles.

Sutton

15 receptions for 283 yards and five touchdowns. On defense, 20 tackles and two interceptions.