Photo by Gabriel Stovall
Lovejoy center Randy Robinson won the Up and Coming Award at Auburn University’s Big Man Linemen Challenge last week. The Wildcats are depending on their offensive line to be a strength for the team in 2013.
HAMPTON— Rack up another summer title for the Lovejoy football team.
This time the spoils go to the young men in the trenches. The Lovejoy linemen recently won the Big Man Linemen Challenge at Auburn University.
Wildcats coach Al Hughes called it one of those things that could really set the tone for the confidence of his offensive line as the summers hottest days inch closer.
“They’re really the unsung heroes of this whole thing,” Hughes said. “Winning something like this is more important for them than the skill people. This is something where no one hears anything about you as a linemen, and then all of a sudden a guy is getting ink in the paper for being an MVP of an offensive line and for him that’s big.”
Lovejoy center Randy Robinson won the competition’s “Up and Coming Award.” Hughes has been high on the rising junior since he stepped on campus at Lovejoy, calling him the “quarterback or point guard” of the offensive line. Robinson has been a starter since his freshman year.
But 6-foot-, 270-pound rising senior Michael Jones is starting to win the respect of teammates and coaches alike.
“Mike’s got a heart like a nine pound hammer,” Lovejoy offensive line coach Paul Roth said. “He’s just something to behold out there. If he were 6-foot-4, 300 pounds everybody would be talking about him.”
Jones, like Robinson, is regarded by Hughes as a sort of “coach on the field”, and with all the talk of skill position talent at Lovejoy — and there is plenty — it is Jones, Robinson and the offensive line that may be the early strength of this year’s ballclub.
“The game of football is still about blocking and tackling,” Hughes said. “If your running back doesn’t have any place to run, and if your quarterback doesn’t have time to throw, it’s going to be hard. You’re going to have a hard time winning football games. But if you can block and tackle, you’ve got a chance.”
Despite consecutive trips to the state finals, Jones said the teams stays motivated after last season’s “gut wrenching” loss to Norcross in the Class AAAAAA finals.
“We were up 14-3 with just a few minutes left, and we couldn’t finish it,” Jones said. “That keeps us working hard. And all I can say is hard work pays off. We started working since January and we’re not going to stop.”
Roth said that while coming out on top at Auburn was an honor, it’s just one small piece of the puzzle for the Wildcats quest for a third title game, and first state title.
“These kids have gotten used to winning,” Roth said. “We’ve got kids saying to each other, ‘You’ve gotta get in the weight room. You’ve still gotta work hard.’
“Winning these camps is one thing, but getting down in a three-point stance, while the band is playing and the girls are cheering and finding a way to win is something else.”