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COACH OF THE YEAR: Al Hughes

Hughes leads Lovejoy back to finals

Photo by Derrick Mahone
Lovejoy coach Al Hughes became the first Clayton County coach to lead lead a county school to consecutive state final appearances.

Photo by Derrick Mahone Lovejoy coach Al Hughes became the first Clayton County coach to lead lead a county school to consecutive state final appearances.

With the return of 16 starters from a team that reached the Class AAAA title game, Lovejoy entered the season with some high expectations.

Even a jump into the highest classification wasn’t supposed to be a problem for the Wildcats this season.

To ensure his team was ready, coach Al Hughes put together a tough non-region schedule that would challenge his senior-laden group. Along the way toward reaching the Class AAAAAA title game, Hughes became the first Clayton County coach to win 100 games while coaching a county team.

Hughes also became the first county coach to lead a team to consecutive state title games.

Why Hughes: The Wildcats won their third straight region title and became the first county team to reach consecutive classification title games. Some might say the Wildcats exceeded expectation in doing so in the state highest classification.

Who else considered: Mundy’s Mill coach Greg Manior. The first-year coach led the Tigers to the brink of the Class AAAAA playoffs after a slow start. With the return of a healthy Rodney Smith at running back, the Tigers should be a serious contender in Region 4-AAAAA next season.