As a member of the Landmark Christian War Eagles, Kirkland compiled a very successful rushing career, including a junior season in which he ran for 2,052 yards and 27 touchdowns. But now he is a member of the Lovejoy Wildcats, who have been to the last two state championship games in Class AAAAAA and Class AAAA.
“Everybody keeps saying it’s going to be harder but football is football,” Kirkland said. “It’s just more students at this school—that is the only difference to me.”
“Probably at a lot of positions it could be different but I don’t know if at running back it is,” Lovejoy coach Al Hughes said. “Because at running back, everybody is trying to hit you hard. It’s not like you’re having to block somebody or fight somebody for a pass or tackle somebody.”
If Kirkland reaches the 2,000-yard mark this season, he will be the second straight Wildcat to do so since 2013 graduate Travis Custis rushed for 2,118 and 35 TDs last season.
“Jeremiah’s definitely capable athletically of running for 2,000 yards again,” Hughes said. “I just hope we are capable as a team of giving him those kinds of opportunities. I hope our offensive line can block, hope our quarterbacks and receivers can do their thing and the defense can get us the ball back. It takes a lot to get 2,000 yards.”
“But as far as having the skill level to do that, I think we got three backs that all have that potential,” Hughes said. “But I know he does and has already proven he does. I’m glad he plays on our team.”
The other running backs aiming to somewhat fill Custis’ void as well are juniors Rico Tilly and Kevin Morris.
They all will run behind successful linemen Justin Brown, Mike Jones and Randy Robinson.
“The blocking over here is great,” Kirkland said.