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Lovejoy's Hughes approaches big coaching milestone

Photo by Derrick Mahone
Lovejoy coach Al Hughes can become the first coach in Clayton Clayton to win 100 games. The Wildcats travel to North DeKalb Stadium on Friday to take on Region 2-AAAAAA foe Druid Hills.

Photo by Derrick Mahone Lovejoy coach Al Hughes can become the first coach in Clayton Clayton to win 100 games. The Wildcats travel to North DeKalb Stadium on Friday to take on Region 2-AAAAAA foe Druid Hills.

Al Hughes file

Hometown: Jonesboro

College: Jacksonville State

Years as head coach: 17

Regular season record: 99-80 (.553 winning percentage)

Playoff record: 8-7

Region titles: 4 (2003, 2004, 2010, 2011)

All-state players: 16

First win: Jonesboro defeated North Clayton 31-0 on Sept. 2, 1989 at Tara Stadium

50th win: Lovejoy defeated Union Grove 33-14 on Oct. 8, 2004 in McDonough

75th win: Lovejoy defeated Morrow 44-8 on Sept. 17, 2010 at Twelve Oaks Stadium

Since two days after receiving his college degree, Al Hughes has been a high school football coach.

With his deep Southern drawl, Hughes will gladly tell you that, “the good Lord has been smiling down on me.”

For 35 years, Hughes has coached football in Clayton County as either an assistant or head coach at both Lovejoy and his alma mater, Jonesboro.

“I had no idea I would still be doing this,” Hughes said Tuesday evening after practice. “I was just happy to be working in Clayton County when I graduated.”

Now, the county’s all-time winningest coach is on the verge of another milestone. A win over Druid Hills on Friday at North DeKalb Stadium will make Hughes the first coach in county history to get 100 wins.

Heading into the Wildcats first Region 2-AAAAAA game Friday, Hughes has 99 wins against 80 losses with all but 15 of those wins coming at Lovejoy.

Last season, he helped lead the Wildcats to the Class AAAA title game at the Georgia Dome.

Hughes says his focus Friday will not be on the milestone, but helping the Wildcats win a third straight region title.

“I haven’t thought much about that,” Hughes said. “I wish I could have won 200, it would have been nice. We are always trying to prepare to win the next one.”

And that next one will be huge.