The Union Recorder

October 2, 2013

Off week has JMA healthy

Kyle Collins
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — John Milledge Academy football enjoyed a productive off week after a 4-1 start.

Trojan head football coach J.T. Wall said the team is almost healed.

Senior defensive lineman Andrew Hayes’ ankle issue could hinder his starting chances Friday against Covenant Academy, but otherwise the Trojans are primed for region play.

“We aren’t really banged up, but it was good to give some guys rest that needed it and look at some younger players last week,” Wall said.

Sophomore Cam O’Neal returned to Monday’s practice.

“Cam is healthy, and we are glad to have him back in the mix,” the JMA coach said.

The main negative from a solid fall start is Trojan penalties.

Wall said the team has cleaned up the flag throwing decisions as the season progresses.

No matter what, JMA starts fresh in region. Records technically go out the window.

“These really count now. We told the kids 4-1 is a great start but that’s over,” Wall said. “Everybody starts with the same record now. All that matters at the end of the day is how you finish region.”

Covenant hasn’t won this season though Wall thinks a new coach has the young team heading in the right direction.

JMA will defend the I-formation with a little play action pass mixed in Friday night.

The Covenant loves to “blitz and bring the heat,” according to Wall. The maturing Trojan offensive line must stay consistent with blitz pickup.

JMA’s head coach likes the O-line’s progress.

“I’m pleased to see how they’ve grown up in five weeks. They get really good when they start to play as one unit. We are getting close to that right now,” Wall said. “We throw different stunts and looks at them each practice to teach them to make adjustments at the line and make the right call. I’m pleased with the holes they are opening and the protection they are giving our quarterback.”

The defensive front and secondary continue operating at a high level. Through five games, JMA has intercepted more passes and created more turnovers than the last few seasons combined.

“I’m really proud of the defense as a whole. I think we are only giving up 8.8 points per game,” Wall said. “These guys on defense want the ball back.”

JMA sits far ahead of opponents in the turnover ratio and wants to keep it that way. The Trojans force others out of their comfort zone.

Those forced throws and plays are finding Trojan defenders’ hands so far.

Covenant faces JMA on homecoming beginning at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Wall wants to set the tone for region games.

“We have to worry about us and come out of the gate strong,” the Trojan head coach said. “If we do what we are supposed to do on the offensive side of the ball and we continue to run to the ball on defense, I think we have a shot of doing something special.”