“We know them well,” Lovejoy football coach Al Hughes said. “We competed against them in the summer passing leagues for several years. We played them this year at Lassiter.
“We competed real well against them,” Hughes said. “We wore their rear ends out. We’re comfortable with them and I’m sure they will have a good plan for us. Coach [Bob] Sphire is in an outstanding coach. They’ve been talked about as being a dynasty so obviously we’ve got our hands full.”
Coming as no surprise, North Gwinnett (11-1) has been playing well since then, winning its last nine games most recently a 28-10 victory Friday over last year’s Class AAAAA champion Grayson.
Michael D’Angola made four field goals and Nate Brown threw a touchdown pass and caught another for the Bulldogs, who recovered three fumbles and picked off a pass.
“Grayson is a great football program but North Gwinnett just took advantage of some opportunities and converted them into points,” Hughes said. “That is the name of the game. That is why you play the game. You can’t play it on paper. You got to play it on the field.”
Meanwhile, the Wildcats (11-1) took care of Marietta 36-15 last Friday, sacking LSU commit Anthony Jennings nine times and picking off two of his passes.
“We’re proud to be headed to the third round,” Hughes said. “We played well on both sides of the ball. We had a couple of breakdowns with our punt-pressure team, roughing the kicker three straight times, but we got that worked out. If it hadn’t been for that I don’t think they would have scored a point. Our kids got a big win for our program.”
“They just won the series of one-on-one matchups against us,” Marietta coach Scott Burton said. “Offensively, we just couldn’t get it going because they won those matchups. Lovejoy has a very good and very athletic team. We just had a hard time finding a rhythm.”
Alejandro Bennifield threw three touchdown passes and Travis Custis carried the ball 24 times for 99 yards. Brandon Davis also returned an interception 105 yards for a TD for the Wildcats, who have won 10 straight games.
Hughes said North Gwinnett reminds him of the Colquitt County, which ran the spread offense, but defeated the Wildcats 14-7 in Moultrie.
“Our defense played really well against Colquitt,” Hughes said. “The only way they scored was on two trick plays. We’ve been trying to work on trick plays all year since then.”