A region championship clinching 38-7 victory over rival Gatewood was a great accomplishment for John Milledge Academy football.
Things change now that the GISA state playoffs come calling Friday.
JMA head coach J.T. Wall said the real football begins.
The Trojans stand as the No. 1 overall seed in Region 1-AA hosting the No. 4 seed Bethesda Academy this week.
“They are big, physical and fast,” Wall said. “Definitely not your typical four seed. The way the bracket fell this year we didn’t get any favors. We are going to have a tough road. It’s win or go home now.”
The Blazers stand 5-5 after the regular season and travel to Milledgeville off a bye week, giving the opponents another week to get healthy.
Wall said the Trojans were responding well in practice.
The Gatewood game knocked out senior running back Chris Williams courtesy of a separated shoulder. He isn’t playing against Bethesda.
“(Williams) is definitely out this week. We are holding out hope that we will get him back next week,” Wall said.
Senior offensive lineman Daulton Rogers hurt his ankle and is day-to-day.
Wall said senior Joseph Beasley returned to the practice field and looks forward to game time.
Good practice habits help the overall team health this time of year.
“The difference we’ve noticed in pretty good teams and great teams we’ve had is these guys know how to practice,” the Trojan coach said. “They know how to stay off the ground and not get hurt and still be able to practice full speed.”
Senior Tommy Pittman had 17 carries for 154 yards and one touchdown over the Gators. His practice and weight room work ethic contribute to the recent JMA football culture change.
“You love to see good things happen to hardworking guys. (Pittman) is that guy,” Wall said. “He is special. We didn’t bat an eye when Tommy ran a 71-yard touchdown run and we put him in at receiver for a 2-point conversion, running him in motion across the formation and throwing him the ball.”
The four-year starter knows the offense from top to bottom.
“Tommy isn’t a vocal leader, but when he speaks, they listen,” the coach said.
JMA wants momentum to carry through the next four weeks finishing at a state championship end.
“If you want to be remembered as a great player or team, you make plays in November,” Wall said. “That’s what we are hoping happens.”