Football coach Hughes is out at Lovejoy

Lovejoy, a football region champion the past four seasons and twice a state runner-up, has replaced 13-year head coach Al Hughes with his defense coordinator, Edgar Carson, Hughes confirmed on Monday.

Hughes said he will leave Lovejoy immediately and spend time helping his father, who is ill, in Jonesboro, where he grew up, and did not criticize the move of the school that employed him as head coach since 2001. Hughes’ record at Lovejoy was 104-48 overall, 47-6 the past four seasons and 10-2 in 2013.

‘’Lovejoy was good to me and I had a great career there,’’ Hughes said. “I enjoyed the young men that I worked with and have nothing but positives to say. I had intended to be there for a long time, but this opportunity is here now, and the good lord has a plan for me. I’ll follow his lead. Right now, that’s to be with my dad and help him. God willing, I’ll find my way back into coaching somewhere.’’

Other school officials could not be reached late Monday for comment.

Carson has been on Hughes’ staff the past three seasons. Lovejoy lost to Tucker 22-7 in the Class AAAA final in 2011 and to Norcross 21-14 in the AAAAAA final in 2012. Carson, who had been an assistant at Griffin prior to coming to Lovejoy, was defensive coordinator this past season and replaced Kevin “Bull” Jones, who is now Dutchtown’s head coach.

Hughes said the decision caught him off guard but wished Carson, whom he called ‘’a good friend,’’ the best luck.

‘’I was actually working in my office trying to do some things for recruiting and it was brought to my attention it was time for us to make a change,’’ Hughes said. “I’ve decided the best thing would be to step out of the way and go about my business.’’

Hughes said he could have remained as athletics director but declined. He said he didn’t have any accomplishment that stood out during his time at Lovejoy. He is Clayton County’s all-time most winning coach.

‘’To be honest, I don’t really feel as if I accomplished anything,’’ Hughes said. “I just feel very fortunate to be the one who sat in that seat. A great foundation was laid for me by (the previous head coach) C.W. Campbell and my brother (Steve Hughes), who was defensive coordinator, and I just had to feed the giant that they build and did the best I could to hang on. I had great kids and coaches and administrative support. It was a great ride. We had fun.”

108 comments Add your comment

Camden74

December 9th, 2013
6:13 pm

Well Sportsnut, what’s your opinion? :-)

Tiger4Life

December 9th, 2013
6:52 pm

And our new region just got little easier…
Tucker wins this region with ease next year :-)

back again

December 9th, 2013
6:53 pm

This is a big mistake. You force the coach out that has brought your team to the limelight. the winningest coach in your schools history who took you to two state championships and replace him with a guy whose defense was nowhere near as good as it was the past three years. Wow, just Wow. I hope this accomplishes what you wanted, because I see it going very bad, very quick.

back again

December 9th, 2013
6:54 pm

@Tiger4Life…I completely agree.

Mr. Wolverine

December 9th, 2013
7:00 pm

Wow!!! There has to be more to this story.

I do wish coach Hughes well. He took Lovejoy to the Finals in back-to-back seasons, with one being in the highest classification, where they lost the game in the 4th Quarter.

back again

December 9th, 2013
7:02 pm

read this article and the two on news-daily.com and you can read between the lines and see what happened

WolfDawg

December 9th, 2013
7:18 pm

I actually met Coach Hughes & his staff while I was in Fayetteville in 2005. Nice, engaging, BIG man.. Wish his father the best in his recovery & Coach the best in the future..

RobFromNorcross

December 9th, 2013
7:19 pm

@back again = I read both articles at the Clayton paper and I can’t read between the lines except to see that they wanted to make a change.

back again

December 9th, 2013
7:33 pm

@RobFromNorcross that is what Im saying they are calling it a retirement, but lets call it what it is. He was fired from doing the job he loved and was good at. To call it a retirement is BS. Lovejoy will miss him sooner than everyone thinks.

Jrus

December 9th, 2013
7:41 pm

What in the world are they thinking? 47-6 record and you force him out? Don’t you owe him something more that this kind of exit? Clayton County had a great one and they blew it. Real classy.

RobFromNorcross

December 9th, 2013
8:07 pm

@back_again, it is pretty clear from this article that he was asked to move aside, no indication of why though. Seems pretty classless to me.

back again

December 9th, 2013
8:25 pm

@Rob yes this article is clear but the Clayton articles are not. It is pretty classless to me as well. If he was losing that’s one thing but he is winning.

LJ7695

December 9th, 2013
8:27 pm

Its a sad day I was lucky enough to play for Coach Hughes and his brother Steve Hughes. The talent will still be at Lovejoy but they won’t get them to play as hard as coach did.

Cool_Coach1

December 9th, 2013
8:35 pm

The administration in Clayton County not as smart as I had given them credit …did they also get rid of their most ardent supporter as well ? Sad day down near the speedway….sounds like the guy got a raw deal.

LHS99

December 9th, 2013
8:49 pm

The Man deserved better, besides winning, he more importantly got young men scholarships that otherwise would not have attended college. I can tell you that was the exception not the norm prior to his arrival. Outside looking in, cowardly move by the administration and I expect a return to mediocrity like most Clayton County football programs. Good Luck Coach!

Football Dad

December 9th, 2013
9:05 pm

This is a bunch of crap. These same people three weeks ago was say how crappy Lovejoy was. How we would never be able to compete at the highest level. Well my two cent is Hughes really wasn’t the problem his OC was. Everyone knew it. He cost us a state championship last year. He cost us a very disappointing lost to Colquitt this year. And it could be said that he cost us the game against Lowndes. But you would have to be inside to know that. As long as Hughes was the head coach he was going to be the OC. This was no surprise to coach Hughes. Every team does it Tucker’s coach left after he won the 4AAAA state championship 2011 last I checked Tucker is playing in the dome on Saturday. I really appreciate the great time coach put into our program. I know he will be great where ever he decide to go. I also welcome the great knowledge of Coach Carson he is a very disciplined and physical coach. All I can say is we want let up anymore. Every play will be like we are down by 40 point. So get ready.

57Cat

December 9th, 2013
9:06 pm

Sportsnut – This really is a surprise to just about everybody on the blog. I don’t ever remember reading anything negative that you said about Coach Hughes or the Lovejoy program. What gives?

WildHawg2012

December 9th, 2013
9:06 pm

Aww man u have a pretty good record and u get asked to leave. Wow. Well best of luck to the Hughes Family and he will land on his feet cause that’s what winner do and looking at his track record he is a winner. Many prayers to his father and I hope they spend a lot of time together. As a Packer backer I think we owe Lovejoy and coach Hughes as well as Norcross a ton of credit for making our defense really commit to getting stronger in the offseason because of the defenses that those two schools had last year were fast and strong and really brought the wood and it was no different this year.

Marietta fan

December 9th, 2013
9:09 pm

Why would Lovejoy fire the guy that put them on the map? There has got to be more to the story.

57Cat

December 9th, 2013
9:12 pm

@Football Dad – My understanding is that the Tucker coach left because of the way the schools in that county had to divide equally the revenue. Consequently, he never had the funds to improve the facilities at Tucker. He went to a school where the rules were different. Someone in the know can correct me if I’m wrong. (As if you wouldn’t!)

Football Dad

December 9th, 2013
9:36 pm

@Marietta Fan there’s nothing else to the story. Like I said this was not a surprise to Coach Hughes. No one said he wasn’t a good Coach. But everyone knew his OC was severely suspect. But he stood by him 100%. It’s very sad he aloud him to bring him down with him. But like I said Coach will land a great coaching job somewhere I just hope he doesn’t take his OC there with him.

jvillebil

December 9th, 2013
9:46 pm

Sounds like everybody who read this article was surprised. But obviously someone had an agenda and politics on the inside can get pretty ugly. Hopefully he’ll wind up somewhere and win a state championship. Best of Wishes Coach Hughes

It's about time

December 9th, 2013
9:49 pm

Man this has been in the making for three years. I played at Lovejoy. Coach Hughes was like a dad to me. But coach Chatman was terrible we just had good athletes like Travis, J Mike. To save the day. I remember when the game would be close he would be sweating and shaking on the sideline. I don’t know if Lovejoy will be better. But they always have a ton of good talent. GATA.

Indian alum

December 9th, 2013
10:00 pm

Fans just crack me up. The OC wasn’t terrible. Neither of you can OC better then any of those guys or yet alone draw up a successful play and name any of the defenses but got the nerve to think you can do a better job then any of these coaches. Wonder why your name isn’t on the short list. Your not better and thats why you stick to your day job.

BAM

December 9th, 2013
10:03 pm

He was fired for being white.

Is the OC the "only" problem?

December 9th, 2013
10:06 pm

Lowndes ran for almost 350 yards on Lovejoy. Who’s job was it to stop them?

GwinnettDad

December 9th, 2013
10:23 pm

Wonder where Sportsnut is? One would think he’d have an inside story if anybody did.

The only question regarding Lovejoy has been their region, which isn’t Lovejoy’s choice. Otherwise, criticism has been more regarding their blog fans here more than anything negative about the team.

Taco

December 9th, 2013
10:31 pm

I don’t care at all about Lovejoy and this mistake but I would like to know where Travis Custis is? Tech will need him now more than ever.

Mark J.

December 9th, 2013
10:40 pm

@57Cat you are correct about the Tucker coach. the two years he won the state it wasn’t his year to receive the money they divide. Other schools root for Tucker, Stephenson, MLK to go deep in playoffs the year its their turn to receive the funds, so they get the uniforms helmets etc

THEHILLISREAL

December 9th, 2013
10:41 pm

I wouldn’t say because Hughes left that Lovejoy will fall off. If Lovejoy keep there talent at home they will be ok … i.e ( no#1 DE in country, The top RB at Sandy Creek). Those ASST. do helluva job down there,
beside they still have that Douglass Astros pipeline in Hampton now. Bigg up to sec 8 vouchers from bowen homes and tech wood homes.

Suwanee 0wns

December 9th, 2013
11:00 pm

There just has to be more to this story somewhere. Or else the people who made this decision are complete idiots.

It seems like any school would be ecstatic to have a coach like this.

OK. I think this is the school district that lost its accreditation in 2008. The governor had to remove 4 school board members for ethics violations because they would not resign and they failed to meet the accreditation standards to run a school system. Maybe Hughes offerred an unwelcome opinion about the mess that is Clayton County Schools. One would like to think no school district would be stupid enough to remove a coach like this, but maybe they really are that stupid.

What a shame for Lovejoy and Clayton County. Running a winning program takes a lot more than just having outstanding athletes. And running a strong program can have a very positive impact on the individual athletes, the school, and the entire community. What a bunch of morons.

Football Dad

December 9th, 2013
11:03 pm

Believe me Lovejoy will be ok. I think a lot of people will be surprised. And this notion that coaches get kids scholarship is crazy. What gets an athlete to college is to be a great high school athlete. Have the grades,and be coach able . And to be over all a big kid. If they posses they traces what does the coach do. He says hi to all of the recruiter showing up to see that kid.

777-9311

December 9th, 2013
11:09 pm

We can use Coach Hughes up here in Athens, at Cedar Shoals. They have a AD-Head Coach position
open. I hope the Lord sends you this way, because we are tired of losing.

Football Dad

December 9th, 2013
11:22 pm

@Suwannee owns You are the biggest idiot on this blog. This is what stupid people do when they don’t know what to do. Attack the community. The community didn’t unseat this coach. You don’t care nor do you want to care about what goes on at Lovejoy High School. You was probably in that same bunch that call coach Hughes team a bunch of hoodlum in thugs last year when they beat up on North Gwinnett. Dude go take care of your teenage drug problems and your over priced under water you really can’t afford homes. I do foreclosure in Ga. I have more homes in Duluth and Suwannee then any other city that I manage. Those are the facts.

Football Dad

December 9th, 2013
11:30 pm

If you are not apart of this Lovejoy family. Please consider yourself an outsider. There for you don’t know what’s going on. We will all see a Lovejoy team ready to play and win next year. We don’t need any outsiders on this blog to tell us that. Just have your team ready. Go Wildcats.

Football Dad

December 9th, 2013
11:34 pm

Lovejoy haven’t lost any coach that actually coaches the team. Speeches don’t win games.

yo

December 9th, 2013
11:50 pm

@Football Dad you confuse me. One sentence you say the OC is the problem and the next you say you hope Hughes doesn’t take the OC with him. ??????

It about time

December 10th, 2013
12:32 am

For all you outsider who have suddenly found a great love for the big guy who sit in the chair on the side line. Oh yea we heard it all. I’m gonna break down a couple of numbers for you. Before Travis Custis who for four years broke most of the state rushing records all of Lovejoy’s. And the biggest group of lineman to show up at a high school from the middle at the same time. For four years Lovejoy had the biggest defensive line in Ga. high school all averaging over 6′ft 345 he was the smallest. Coach record was 57-40. In the last four years of having one of the biggest it not the biggest team in Ga. His record is 47-6 . As soon as that big line graduated last year the defensive coach ran to DutchTown. Because he said we did have the size anymore to compete. Well with a ton of sophomore and Juniors we did. 10-2 wasn’t bad better then anyone thought. Well next year we are all juniors and seniors like everyone else was this year. Let’s see what happens. I said that to say if Norcross coach would have had the teams Hughes has had in the last four years. Norcross would have at lease three state titles. Lovejoy didn’t loose to Norcross they got out coached. Something in Colquitt . Like some one said earlier on these blog. Lovejoy the Buffalo Bills on 6AAAAAA. Now it’s win or don’t be expected too.

I'm scared

December 10th, 2013
1:36 am

Lord help us all. If this is the next generation we are all doomed. I needed to go to the urban dictionary to translate half of these writings.

GwinnettDad

December 10th, 2013
3:54 am

It about time
December 10th, 2013
12:32 am
Lovejoy had the biggest defensive line in Ga. high school all averaging over 6′ft 345 he was the smallest.

That statement makes Sportsnut look humble, almost meek. I hope the writer meant 245. Sportsnut gave us the weights of the Lovejoy offensive line earlier in the year by position.

If not, that line is a fish story.

blurredlines

December 10th, 2013
6:05 am

@ I’m scared! Stick to football comments and stop sending passive aggressive, underlying racism comments. You can always recognize the unintelligent who think they are because of their circumstances.

blurredlines

December 10th, 2013
6:08 am

@everyone else. You are well versed and argue great issues. Nothing like BAM to come right out and say what he felt and throw out the race card. At least BAM wasn’t sneaky with it like I’m scared.

Football Dad

December 10th, 2013
7:37 am

@Yo Please understand that we want to see Coach do well . But that want happen as long as he keep this OC with him. Sometimes friends just can’t go into business together. By no means we want this guy to stay in his current position at Lovejoy. Maybe he should focus more on Baseball. Everyone knows the four plays he runs in football now, with his make them stop it attitude. Well they did. Good luck coach Hughes, get rid of your dead weight.

Suwanee 0wns

December 10th, 2013
8:00 am

I sure was not trying to attack the Lovejoy community. The problems at the Clayton County School Board that almost cost the entire school system their accreditation are a matter of public record. I was postulating that bad administration might have something to do with a decision that makes no sense, on the surface. I certainly was not trying to attack the community.

Instead, it appears that there really was some sort of animosity between Hughes and the community. I am not sure why, but that animosity is apparently present. From watching the team, Coach Hughes is morbidly obese and not particularly mobile. Perhaps he really did not take an active role in the coaching. However, somebody at Lovejoy must be doing a good job of coaching. A group of athletes, no matter how good, does not get itself to the dome without strong coaching. I do not want to mention any particular school, but there is at least 1 school with a ton of D1 athletes that just cannot seem to win big playoff games. It takes both athletes and a good coaching staff.

I hope the parents did not really expect the coach to take the team to the dome every year. Being one of the 2 teams out of 32 in the tournament that goes to the dome involves strong athletes, coaching prowess, AND LUCK. Outstanding teams with good coaches frequently miss out on the championship game just because there are so many good teams.

If Auburn does not run back the missed field goal, then Alabama is in the Championship game instead of Auburn. If Taj Griffin (I think) at McEachern does not run back the punt in the final seconds then Collins Hill advances instead of McEachern. If North Gwinnett misses the field goal, then Archer advances. Some of the great teams that could have gone to the dome this year include: Camden, Lowndes, McEachern, Hillgrove, Colquitt, Archer, Peachtree Ridge, Dacula, and Mill Creek (who did not even make the playoffs). I am sure there are others who were a fumble, interception, or punt return away from advancing to the next game. Sometimes a team just gets an unlucky bracket draw and they face an opponent with whom they match up poorly. Plenty of very good teams just do not get to the Championship game through no fault of the players or coaching staff.

I hope the decision at Lovejoy had nothing to do with race, but given the strong opinions expressed, it appears that may have been a factor. Too bad.

The fast growth in the Suwanee area was the source of some tremendous family tragedies when the recession hit and people started losing jobs. Many of the last homes built were exactly the homes that families lost to foreclosure. There really are some very sad stories of failed businesses, lost jobs, and family tragedies. While there are cases where people had unrealistic expectations, there are plenty of cases where people were on successful career paths and their dreams were crushed through no fault of their own. I know way too many people whose careers, businesses, families, and homes were destroyed by the recession. I do not envy anyone who had to knock on a door and throw a family out of their home. Fortunately, Suwanee is recovering now and the success of the football teams helps build community spirit a little bit.

Good luck to Lovejoy, its players, parents, and the community. I hope that your coaching decision works out for you. A successful football program can have a positive impact way beyond a few athletes who earn scholarships. However, do not be surprised if the team does not return to the dome for several years. It has taken North Gwinnett 55 years to get there twice. Based upon the Maxwell rankings, it is possible your team will not even win its Region next year. Good luck.

Sportsnut

December 10th, 2013
8:16 am

Coach Hughes has done a great job at Lovejoy. He was named the head coach the year I came into the area. He has been a great role model for the kids that have been under his watch. I wish him well as he leaves with the pipeline full, pretty much thanks to him. He will be missed.

He not only led them on the field, he cared about their life after high school. When ever I needed to speak to him as a parent, I had 3 graduate from Lovejoy, or as the Booster Club president, he was always available and had an open ear. I will be hard not seeing him on the sidelines or at the school.

Good luck to him in his future endeavors.

Sportsnut

December 10th, 2013
8:40 am

For those that do not know, Football Dad is right. The O/C has been the reason Lovejoy has not done better for many years. He does not know how to coach. Not football. He is a good baseball manager/coach. He does not know how to use his talent. As much as Lovejoy has accomplished, there should be much more. Thanks to him, there is not. For those of us on the inside, we feel we should be 2 time champs. 2011 and 12′, we had what it took to be champs.

The second game of the year, at Colquitt, Coach Hughes turned to the stands as we left the stands calling for a change in the play calling. He heard us as he looked directly into the crowd. He knew something had to give as these were the true fans and parents making the comments. ,Meeting time. Little change. The O/C needed to go, not Coach Hughes. He had(O/C) his eyes on the head job. Now he is not the O/C because I know Coach Carson will make change. Lovejoy will be alright.

Southside

December 10th, 2013
8:40 am

Coach Hughes is a good man, but something had to be done and quite frankly should have been done along time ago. I applaude the person who made this decision it took a lot of courage. Lovejoy didn’t just come on the scene the past few years. In the early 2000 Lovejoy had the most talent of any teams in the country. Lovejoy should have won at least 3 state titles from 2001 -2007 when they were loaded with talent.

They finally brought in some new coaches which help them get back in the playoffs and past the second round .The changing of the staff including d coordinator has been the thing that got them to the championship games the past few years. the talent has always been there.

Hughes is a good man who teaches the kids a lot of positive things as well as help many get into college, but many of those kids would get college scholarships if the were playing at any school.

Thinks for the memories but it was time and the right thing to do only a few years late.

Suwanee 0wns

December 10th, 2013
8:48 am

Good luck to Lovejoy. I hope it works out for everyone, including Coach Hughes.

I am clearly an outsider. To an outsider this just did not make any sense when the program was doing so well. While you guys did not owe an explanation to a bunch of internet strangers, it still helps. I am sure this was a very tough decision, and I hope it works out for the best.

Lovejoy has absolutely added to the excitement and the level of competition within Georgia HS football, and I hope they continue to do so. Many teams have learned a bit from playing Lovejoy.

Dr. Phill

December 10th, 2013
9:08 am

This is high school, not the NFL.

Bruzer

December 10th, 2013
9:15 am

simply overzealous parents at their worse once again!