Coordinator replaces coach Hughes at Lovejoy

Rob Saye

On Monday, Clayton News Daily reported that after 13 seasons at Lovejoy, head football coach Al Hughes had retired from his teaching position at the Clayton County school. The move seemed to be more of a surprise than a retirement for the beloved Clayton County native and head coach. Lovejoy has been one of Georgia’s most consistent programs in the state the last several seasons and reached the state championship in both 2011 and 2012. Over the last four seasons, Hughes has led Lovejoy to an incredible 47-6 record. This season, the young Wildcats fell in the second round of the state playoffs to Lowndes 23-18, finishing 10-2. This year marked the fourth consecutive region title for Lovejoy and the fourth 10-win season in a row. Hughes confirmed Monday that defense coordinator, Edgar Carson,will assume the head coaching duties. Lovejoy’s defense allowed 15 points per game this season and just 10.4 points per game in 2012.

Hughes began his head coaching career at Jonesboro in 1989 according to the Georgia High School Football Historian’s Association and left to be an assistant at Lovejoy following the 1993 season. In 2001, Hughes took over the Wildcats’ head coaching spot and with a 119-83 career head coaching record (Jonesboro and Lovejoy), stands as the all-time winningest coach in Clayton County.

“There are a lot of fond memories I have,” Hughes told Clayton News Daily. “I need to retire and get out of the way for the Lovejoy program. I don’t want to cause any grief for them.”

Lovejoy and the rest of the state will be in the GHSA’s reclassified regions next season and state finalist Tucker will join the Wildcats. Lovejoy will graduate Ole Miss-commit and four-star linebacker Demarquis Gates and starting guard and Western Kentucky-commit Justin Brown. Returning for the Wildcats’ are a pair of talented SEC commits. 6-foot-5 wide receiver Preston Williams (Tennessee) will likely be in the preseason discussion for Player of the Year this upcoming season and cornerback Montrell Custsis (Kentucky) is already a four-star prospect.

“It is not the end of my coaching career,” Hughes told the Clayton News Daily. “I still have coaching my blood. My dad has been sick, so I’m going to spend some time with him and my mom to help them out. I’m not through coaching, I’m going to weigh my options.”

Days before the state championship game in 2011 in an interview with Clayton News Daily, Hughes reflected back to 1993 when he arrived as an assistant coach at Lovejoy.

“When I got to Lovejoy, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven,” said Hughes. “I’d never seen so many good athletes in my life.”


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