Alcovy welcomes Lovejoy with region crown on the line

Friday is shaping up to be the biggest day in the short history of the Alcovy High School football program as the Tigers will welcome state power Lovejoy to Homer Sharp Stadium with the Region 2-AAAAAA championship on the line.

For Lovejoy, who has been to two consecutive state championship games and was just a seven-point loss to Norcross from winning a state title in 2013, Friday will be about trying to finish a fourth consecutive season without a league loss. The last time Lovejoy lost a region game was a 20-14 setback against Chapel Hill; back in its old Region 4-AAAAA; back on October 30, 2009.

Not too much to ask for the upstart Tigers, who at 7-2 have won more than six games for just the second time in the program’s eight short years and will try to capture their first league championship.

Alcovy got to this point - 4-1 in league play with a chance to pull the giant upset and head into the Class AAAAAA state playoffs as a top seed - thanks to strong defensive effort in a win over Rockdale last week. The Covington school held its sixth opponent to 10 or less points and has allowed just 105 points in nine games.

“I told everybody from day one, defense was going to have to carry us. We didn’t play well (but) we played hard,” said Alcovy coach Kirk Hoffman, the school’s only head coach in eight years. “I couldn’t be any prouder of my kids.”

Now, comes the most important night since that first game way back in 2006. Lovejoy brings its high-powered offense, which is averaging over 38 points and includes the junior trio of Tennessee commitment Preston Williams, Montrell Custis and Tremaine Dillard. The defense, led by linebacker and Mississippi commitment Demarquis Gates, isn’t too shabby either, allowing an average of just 14 points and a combined 39 points in the last five games of a current seven-game winning streak.

“There’s no doubt about it, they’re good football team,” Hoffman said of Lovejoy.

If Alcovy is to not only stay with the high-scoring Wildcats but pull off the shocker, the defense will have to continue to make big plays, and that starts with lineman Curtiss Benton. In the win over Rockdale, Benton was outstanding, picking up three sacks, a number of tackles for loss and a fumble return for a touchdown, in the 22-7 victory.

“We’re going to have to do an awful lot,” Hoffman said.

Win or lose Friday, Alcovy has already accomplished quite a bit since its inception during the middle of last decade. 2013 will be the third time in the last five seasons the Tigers will participate in the state playoffs and a victory over either Lovejoy or a first-round playoff opponent will be the single-season school record eighth victory. That’s after going 7-23 in the first three seasons from 2006-2008.

“This program’s come a long way,” said Hoffman said.