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CLASS AAAA PREVIEW: Lovejoy vs. Tucker

Courtesy of Tucker High School
Courtesy of Tucker High School

Tucker 14-0, Region 6 Champions

The Tigers defeated Northside-Warner Robins in the semifinals 17-16 last week to get here. Tucker shut down the Eagles’ offense which came into the game averaging 35.3 points per game in the playoffs. The Tucker defense not only held the Eagles to 16 points, but the Tigers also came up with the game-winning score on a 100-plus yard fumble return for touchdown by linebacker Justin Rivers late in the fourth quarter after trailing 16-10. Northside was on the two-yard line looking to put the game away.

The defense has been led this season by outstanding defensive back Sancharles Zachery, who has tallied 74 total tackles including five forced fumbles. Joshua Dawson is the playmaker up front for Tucker leading the team with eight sacks on the season from the defensive end position. The Tigers’ offense left something to be desired only scoring one offensive touchdown, and the 17 points was well under their 44.7 average in previous rounds of the playoffs. Tucker will look to get back to the offensive form that had been dominating defenses in the first three rounds. Quarterback Juwaan Williams will need to be the spark on the offensive side of the ball as his dual-threat abilities have been key for the Tigers all year. Williams posted three rushing touchdowns in the quarterfinals win over Flowery Branch, and for this offense to move the ball effectively in the finals, Williams will need to keep the defense honest with a solid performance both running and throwing. The Tigers’ offense will need to do this and improve drastically from their semifinals performance for the finals because the Lovejoy defense has allowed a miniscule 4.8 points per game in the playoffs.

Lovejoy 14-0, Region 4 Champions

The Wildcats have ridden their defense to the Dome and hope that they have one more great performance left in them. The numbers put up by the Lovejoy defense are staggering: 3.6 points per game in the regular season, eight shutouts, 21 blocked kicks and 42 forced turnovers. The defense has been best in the state in points per game allowed and has continually provided the offense with great field position by causing turnovers and blocked kicks.

Against Warner Robins in the semifinals the Lovejoy defense did not disappoint. They blocked the first punt attempt by the Demons, who did not try to punt again after that. Jermaine Hough picked off Demons quarterback Ty Odom that gave the Wildcats good field position. Odom was only able to complete four passes on 20 attempts for 40 yards. The Wildcats’ offense has been the beneficiary of the stingy defense and has not been asked to put up too many points during the playoff run. Lovejoy struggled offensively against Warner Robins putting up 209 yards, with only 34 coming in the first half. Despite these troubles the Wildcats were able to score 21 points. Two of their scores came after the Hough interceptions and quarterback Alejandro Benefield took advantage throwing two touchdowns to A.J. Jackson. Travis Custis once again carried the load offensively for the Wildcats racking up 131 yards rushing and one touchdown, with a majority of his production coming in the second half. Custis has been the work-horse for the Lovejoy offense this year and there is no reason to think that he will not be the focal point once again in the championship game. Lovejoy’s grind it out style does not always produce the prettiest games, but there is no denying the effectiveness as the Wildcats remain undefeated.