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Posted: October 30, 2012 9:20 p.m.

Fazio: Lovejoy: in its own league

Friday's game between Newton and Lovejoy high schools at 12 Oaks Stadium in Jonesboro played host to the Region 2-AAAAAAA championship.


At least, officially it was.

But the championship was earned far before that, every Monday through Thursday on the practice fields at Lovejoy before the season even started. All through the 2012 season, it has been the Wildcats and then everyone else.

Lovejoy has run away with the region in dominating fashion, with no other team able to even come close.

The Newton Rams came in to Friday night's matchup as one of the teams unbeaten in Region 2-AAAAAA play. The other, of course, was Lovejoy.

The stage was set, but the performance would be a one-man show.

Newton set things up to be interesting, but the Rams' part lasted just minutes. The Wildcats' part stretched throughout the game, throughout the season and possibly into the postseason.

Lovejoy's 51-6 victory may have been built up as a region-title clash, but the dominating result was but surprising for those who have watched the newly formed league throughout the 2012 season.

In the Wildcats' five region matchups, they have won by a combined score of 260-9, and throughout all nine games are beating opponents by an average of 42.7 to 6.7. Lovejoy's only loss came in the season's second week, 14-7 to Colquitt County, a very solid team in the state. All that domination has earned Lovejoy a ranking of seventh in the overall Class AAAAAA, up two from last week, prior to the dominating region championship win.

Watching the Wildcats, they look like a much better team than the seventh best in the state's highest classification. Defensively, Lovejoy has three shutouts and held teams to seven or less seven times. Offensively, Lovejoy has a ton of what all the football talking heads call weapons.

Their quarterback can read defenses pre-snap better than any other in the region and spreads the ball around efficiently. His targets are solid for a small college team, yet alone a high school team.

Several of his options are over 6-foot, two listed at 6-foot-4 and one at 6-foot-6, including a future college star at tight end.

However, teams can't play off the line, trying to cover all those athletes. Running out of the backfield is the strongest and most dynamic of the Wildcats' offensive toys in Travis Custis. Custis, who refuses to go down easily and has breakaway speed, is running for the next couple of weeks in Lovejoy white and blue before putting Georgia Tech's colors next fall.

Lovejoy's dominance is evident looking through the 2012 season results, but its championship could have been predicted by looking around the region.

Sure, no one knew for sure what the league had to offer prior to September but things have not gone well for region members not named Lovejoy.

The Rams came into Friday's game unbeaten in region play, but had lost their first four games by a total of 104-7. Region 2-AAAAAA's next best team, Alcovy, has yet to put together two straight wins and fell to then-two-win Druid Hills Friday.

Filling out the region's current playoff lineup is Rockdale, which snapped a 13-game losing streak with a 9-0 win over one-win Morrow just four weeks ago. The league's lack of strong teams was pointed out in Tuesday's Atlanta Journal Constitution when the paper ranked the strength of schedule for all Class AAAAAA and Class AAAAA teams.

Of the 63 teams in the state's largest classification, the bottom six are all from Region 2-AAAAAA, including Lovejoy at 60. Alcovy has the second-weakest schedule in AAAAAA and Newton, which opened the season against playoff-bound Eastside, Lowndes and Valdosta, is listed as having the 58th best strength of schedule.

Thus, Lovejoy, having reached the state finals in 2011, has, both on the field and state sheet, shown it is in a league of its own in Region 2-AAAAAA.

 

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