Friday’s GISA regular season finale pitting John Milledge Academy against rival Gatewood will determine the 1-AA Region Championship.
Both the Trojans and Gators are a perfect 4-0 in region play.
JMA head football coach J.T. Wall said the Trojan squad needs its best ball game of the year for a shot at victory.
“We are playing a Gatewood club that’s hungry. They have a ton of seniors on the team,” Wall said. “Gatewood does a lot of things very well.”
Gator quarterback Cal Taylor creates plenty of defensive problems.
Taylor runs the option and spread game well.
“(Cal) dictates a lot of what they do on offense,” Wall said. “Everything runs through him. He’s a very good athlete.”
Concentration is the week’s top priority.
Halloween, Senior Day festivities and the “junk talking” rivalry itself could play a part if JMA lets it.
“We’ve got to eliminate the distractions and be ready to play ball. It’s a rivalry game. We should get up and be amped up to play, but at the same token we went over there last year and they were more ready than we were,” Wall said. “They came out emotionally charged and hit us in the mouth. We didn’t really get up until the second quarter. We can’t afford that this year.”
Besides a defense that usually doesn’t allow opponents in double digits, the Trojan offensive line has asserted themselves.
Starters Daulton Rogers, Jordan Bush, Ben Bracewell, Andrew Hayes and Chase Owen help JMA average 250 rushing yards per game.
Wall will lean on these starters more than ever Friday. Last year, the Trojan O-Line didn’t play as well as expected.
“(Gatewood) is going to bring the kitchen sink. We are going to have to be able to handle it and sort out all the different stuff they do,” the coach said. “Everything starts and ends with that offensive line. We feel good about the direction they are heading.”
JMA carries a healthy team except for one key player into the region championship matchup.
Courtesy of an ankle injury Chase Register is day-to-day.
Friday’s game at home at Ted S. Smith Field begins at 7:30 p.m.