Photo by Derrick Mahone
Lovejoy coach Al Hughes said his “team did not waver” despite facing a top Colquitt County team in a hostile environment in Moultrie last weekend.
For most of the Lovejoy players, it was an atmosphere that they had never experienced before.
Wildcats coach Al Hughes says he has to go back to around 2003 to remember a more intense, playoff-style atmosphere like the one last Friday in Moultrie. The 10th-ranked Wildcats lost 14-7 to No. 8 Colquitt in the first meeting between the schools.
Hughes is hopeful that the experience his team got from its trip to powerhouse Colquitt County will carry them through the season and into the playoffs, in the state’s largest classification.
“It was a situation where we went on the road, and had to play the whole town,” Hughes said about the soldout stadium in the small South Georgia town.
The last two seasons, the Wildcats have enjoyed the comforts of home as they won 22 straight regular season games. It four playoff win last season came at home before losing to Tucker at the Georgia Dome in the Class AAAA finals.
In 2010, Lovejoy played all but two regular season games in Clayton County. The other two were in nearby East Point and Fairburn. Last season, the only regular season game not in one of the three county stadiums was at the Georgia Dome against Morrow.
Last Friday was an eye-opening experience for the players.
“It was way different,” senior defensive lineman Nathaniel Norwood said. “We were not used to that.”
Said senior defensive end/linebacker Veion Robinson: “It was something out of Friday Night Lights. There were a bunch of fans right on top of you. The fans were engaged on every play.”
Despite the hostile crowd and playoff-like atmosphere, Hughes said he was proud of the way his team responded.
“They did not waver the entire game,” he said. “We had two touchdowns called back, but my team did not waver. We battled the entire game. I think the benefit of playing there outweighed any negatives.”
Hughes was hoping for a better result.
Before jumping into its Region 2-AAAAAA schedule, the Wildcats will host Alpharetta this Friday before traveling to East Coweta next week. Both teams are playoff quality opponents.
“I would like to play in another atmosphere like Colquitt County,” Norwood said. “You just have to go in and ignore the fans and play ball. It was a good experience.”