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MAHONE: Lovejoy, Mundy’s Mill bringing community excitement

When Mundy’s Mill opened in 2003 to relieve some overcrowding at nearby Lovejoy, there were some concerns from the athletic standpoint.

Would the Lovejoy football team be able to maintain a competitive playoff status?

It took a few lean years, but the Lovejoy football program is as strong as it’s ever been. After four straight region championships and two consecutive trips to its classification state title game, Lovejoy can be counted among the elite.

The Wildcats’ program not only survived, but has thrived in the process. And don’t expect any drop-off any time soon with the lower grade programs having equal success.

Last month, Eddie White Academy, one of Lovejoy’s feeder programs played in the county middle school championship game.

Tonight, the second-ranked Wildcats will host powerhouse Lowndes in the second round of the Class AAAAAA playoffs.

Just down the road Tara Boulavard, Mundy’s Mill is starting to become a consistent playoff caliber team under second-year coach Greg Manior.

The Tigers, winners of their last seven games, will travel to South Georgia tonight to take on another upstart in Lee County.

Clayton County has much to be proud of with two school in close proximity to each other representing the county in the playoffs.

Often times the county is criticized for a few of its shortcomings, but now is the time for its residents to rally around one of the area’s many positives.

Some may say it’s only high school football.

But the sport has been a big part of many communities around the country, especially in the South where football reigns as king.

Communities have come together to rally around football.

In this part of the country, football is like a second religion. There is nothing like Friday night under the lights of a high school football stadium.

The band. The crowd. And the overall atmosphere.

“Our boys are real focused, and they want to do something positive for the community,” Mundy’s Mill coach Greg Manior said.

Manior is too familiar with the closeness that football brings to a community. Raised in Effingham County before playing at North Carolina State, Manior has coached several years in small towns throughout the state.

Prior to taking the job at Mundy’s Mill, he coached at Screven County, South Effingham and Savannah.

Although Clayton County is a part of metro Atlanta, he says there is still a sense of community on the Southside when it comes to sports.

“The county is far enough south where we are not in all the hustle and bustle of the big city,” he said. “I think it is good for the county to have these two teams still in the playoffs.”

It is even better if they can continue to win.

Derrick Mahone is the sports editor for the Clayton News Daily newspaper. He can be reached at dmahone@news-daily.com. On Twitter? Follow him @DerrickMahone_.