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Lovejoy WR Preston Williams named top region offensive player

Jeremiah Kirkland rushed for 1,000 yards to lead Lovejoy to its fourth straight region title and a second round Class AAAAAA playoff appearance. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

Jeremiah Kirkland rushed for 1,000 yards to lead Lovejoy to its fourth straight region title and a second round Class AAAAAA playoff appearance. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

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Lovejoy wide receiver Preston Williams was named to the offensive player of the year for Region 2-AAAAAA after getting 1,402 receiving yards for the region champions. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

McDONOUGH —Luella’s football success in 2013 wasn’t just measured by its first postseason appearance since 2008 — just the second in school history.

A look down the roster of the All-Region 2-AAAAAA team also gives a good indication as to the progress of Lions football.

Luella had a total of 11 players named the all-region team with two named to the first team defense. Linebacker Steve Osondu and defensive lineman A.J. Reeves was named to the first team from Luella. Luella finished 5-6 for the season, losing to North Cobb in the first round of the state playoffs.

Elsewhere in the Southern Crescent, while the debate continues on whether Preston Williams is the top junior recruiting prospect in the country, Region 2-AAAAAA coaches thinks he is the best in their league.

The Lovejoy High junior wide receiver was named the Region 2-AAAAAA Offensive Player of the Year by the region’s coaches. This past season, Williams led the second-ranked Wildcats offense with 1,402 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns.

Lovejoy won its fourth straight region title and reached the second round of the Class AAAAAA playoffs, where it lost to Lowndes at Twelve Oaks Stadium.

During the postseason, Williams might have been at his best when he had seven touchdowns receptions, including a dramatic game-winning 47-yard touchdown catch against Marietta in the first round of the playoffs.

Many online recruiting services have tabbed Williams, a 6-foot-5, 200-pounder as the top prospect in the class of 2015. He has already committed to play at Tennessee after his high school eligibility is done.

Former Lovejoy coach Al Hughes was named the coach of the year in the region. Last week, Hughes was forced out as the school’s coach and replaced by defensive coordinator and athletic director Edgar Carson.

Hughes leaves as the all-time winningest coach in Clayton County with 119 wins and seven region titles. During the 2011-12 seasons, Hughes led the Wildcats to back-to-back state finals appearances.

In all, Lovejoy had three players named to the first-team offensive unit and three to the defensive team. Also, kicker Jaime Nunez was selected as the top kicker for the region.

Named to the first team offense from Lovejoy was running back Jeremiah Kirkland, who rushed for 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns in his only season at the school. Last season, Kirkland was a 2,000-yard rusher at Class A Landmark Christian. Before attending Landmark, Kirkland attended Lovejoy Middle School.

Also named to the first team offense were linemen Randy Robinson and Justin Brown. Two weeks ago, Brown committed to Western Kentucky.

On the defensive side, defensive lineman Kris Ellis, linebacker Randy Anyanwu and defensive back Montrell Custis made the first team. Custis, a junior, has committed to play at Kentucky.

Morrow had two players — Courtney Heard and Keenon Davis — to make the first team offense. Heard passed for 2,473 yards and 23 touchdowns for the Mustangs. Davis had 47 catches for 512 yards and seven touchdowns.