Edgar Carson’s defense is giving up 15 points per game, but has only yielded three points in the first two region games. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
HAMPTON — Lovejoy defensive coordinator Edgar Carson realized coming into the season that he would have to be patient with his unit.
Graduation took five starters, and the injury bug spread throughout the offseason. One of the biggest casualties was preseason all-state linebacker DeMarquis Gates, who has verbally committed to Ole Miss.
Coming into the season, Gates was expected to be a leader both on and off the field, but knee surgery has kept him off the field.
As some of the other players begin to heal and gain experience, the Wildcats are once again playing at a high level on the defensive side of the ball.
Coming into tonight’s Region 2-AAAAAA game against Morrow, the fourth-ranked Wildcats are giving up 15 points per game, and they have only surrendered a total of three in the first two region contests.
“We are really starting to come together as a defensive unit,” Carson said. “We are playing with a lot of cohesiveness, and playing well on each level.”
Individually, defensive end Randy Anyanwu has made a recovery from an offseason hamstring injury. After sitting out the first game of the season, he has seven sacks, one more than his total from last season.
As the senior has gotten better, so has the Lovejoy defense.
“I started off really slow because of the injury, but I’m feeling real good now,” Anyanwu said. “It was a nagging injury, and I was kind of scared at first to go all out. I really didn’t want to re-injure it and miss more game. Now, I feel real strong physically.”
And that could mean trouble for the rest of Lovejoy’s region opponents.
Lovejoy coach Al Hughes says that the defense is playing better now that it is getting back healthy.
“This defense might be a little ahead of where I thought it would be at this point in the season,” Hughes said. “We had some injuries that had slowed us down. We played a heck of a non-region schedule against some tough opponents. I think those earlier games has toughened us up some. We didn’t dodge anybody. We had hoped we could just survive and get better as the season went on.”
Lovejoy gave up 23 points to Alpharetta and 35 to East Coweta, but since then region foes Druid Hills and Rockdale have combined for only three points.
Morrow, which is 1-4 overall and 0-1 in the region, is averaging 16 points per game.
Gates will learn his status in a couple weeks. The senior linebacker is hopeful he will get clearance to start playing, which would aid the Wildcats.
“I really miss being out there and helping the team,” Gates said. “I’m ready.”
And coaches are anxious to see him back in action.
“It is really going to help our team having him back out there,” Carson said. “He is a leader for us, and an outstanding player.”