Opponents knew what was coming, but they could never stop it.
Like the Marvel comics and movie villain Thanos, John Milledge Academy running back Amaad Foston was inevitable, but it took a lot more than just the snap of the junior’s fingers for him to do his job. Other teams watched the film and loaded the box week after week, but Foston ran right through (and oftentimes over) that traffic on his way to a record-setting season that helped take his own team to a state championship. Foston ran for 2,349 yards on 262 carries in 2019, marking the second 2,000-yard season effort of his three-year varsity career. He scored 38 touchdowns, which set a new school record for a single season of work. The junior bruiser is now a two-time GISA All-State and Golden Helmet honoree (JMA Team MVP) and also has a second Union-Recorder All-County Offensive Player of the Year title to his name.
John Milledge head football coach and offensive playcaller JT Wall says there isn’t really anything his running back can do that would surprise him anymore. With this season’s state championship, the powerful runner has accomplished just about everything a player of his position can short of breaking every school record. There’s still time for that.
“He’s gotten to the point where he’ll work on a move during the weekend to put something else in his ‘toolbox,’ and he’ll do it in a game — like a jump cut or a stiff arm — and he doesn’t even know he’s done it at the time,” Wall said. “He works on stuff so much that it’s almost second nature. He’s the complete package. He gets better and better not only each year, but each day. He’s a hard worker who deserves everything he gets.”
While his head coach doesn’t think anything else his star runner does could surprise him, Foston is of a different mind.
“I have a lot more stuff to put out there,” Foston said. “I’ve barely done anything that’s in my toolbox right now, so there’s a lot more to come and there’s a lot more things I can do on the football field.”
There is one aspect of Foston’s game Wall has seen that others have not. The junior had just 5 receptions for 89 yards this season, numbers the head coach says are not indicative of his skills as a receiver.
“His hands out of the backfield are probably the one thing we don’t utilize enough,” Wall said. “We put him at receiver during some 7-on-7 stuff this summer and he made some unbelievable catches.”
Other than his hands, Foston boasts superb skills in just about every key area for a running back — power, vision, balance, pass-blocking and Wall says he’s even found another gear speed-wise.
Enter Lionel Richie
Fans of John Milledge football got real acquainted with the smooth voice of Lionel Richie late in the 2019 season when the school’s cheerleading coach and head of gameday atmosphere Doug Stephens introduced Richie’s hit “All Night Long” into the game playlist (“When ya ain’t got a band, you gotta be creative,” said Wall.). Whether it be a 4-yard carry to move the chains or a 25-yard romp through the defense, anytime Foston got his team a first down the home crowd was treated to the catchy tune. The song was inserted into the lineup the week the Trojans played Frederica in a rematch of the 2018 state championship.
Speaking of that state championship game, a 48-0 loss for John Milledge, Foston said it was a huge motivator for himself and his team coming into 2019.
“I didn’t want that feeling again,” he said.
Foston was so serious about it that he called it quits on college football recruiting activities in mid-July so he could focus on helping his team get back to the big game.
“You love to hear that as a coach,” Wall said. “He stepped more into a leadership role this year, which we needed him to. He’s never going to be that 100 percent vocal guy, but he’s come out of shell a little bit more. At the end of the day, guys in front of him and behind him know he’s going to do his job 100 miles an hour. That’s the best type of leader you can be.”
The junior running back ran through, over and past opposing defense Friday night after Friday night until the Trojans completed the yearlong journey of returning to the GISA AAA state championship game. It was there that Foston put on a show that will likely be talked about for years and years to come. Facing a very talented Valwood defense, he was relentless as he carried the football 42 times for 423 yards and eight touchdowns on the night. The GISA does not keep records but it’s thought to be the best performance by a running back in a state championship game. Foston’s huge night accounted for nearly one-fifth of his entire season yardage total while the eight-touchdown performance certainly puts him in rare company. Anyone concerned with the young man’s well-being after taking on such a heavy load should be comforted by this retelling of a halftime conversation between head coach and player shared by Coach Wall.
Wall to Foston: “You’ve already carried it 29 times. Are you good?”
Foston: “Coach, you’ve got to feed me tonight.”
And feed him Wall did all the way to a 62-19 final score and the school’s second football state championship. Foston knows he couldn’t have done it without his blockers — those up front and in the backfield with him at fullback.
“I love them boys,” the running back said. “I know they put in 100 percent for me, so I’m going to do the same for them.”
If he’s able to keep up with his current pace, the game of football is going to carry Foston far beyond Milledgeville. His future goal is play in the National Football League on Sundays, but first he’ll have to wow scouts by performing at the next level. Recruitment really ramped up this past year as he took visits to Penn State, Kentucky, Boston College and Georgia while also visiting multiple camps. This weekend he’ll be at Virginia and West Virginia to see what those campuses have to offer.
“I’m just looking for that connection and brotherhood feeling,” Foston said. “I want to go somewhere I’ll be comfortable.”
Before heading off to the next level, Foston still has one season of high school ball left and many other things to check off his list. Two-time state champion sounds at least two times better than just “state champion,” doesn’t it?
“I feel like we can definitely get back there again,” Foston said. “If we go in with the mentality of, not forgetting about this past year, but knowing we have to move on and that it’s a new year and we have a lot more goals to accomplish, we can do 10 times better than 2019.”
Football Offensive Team
Amaad Foston (JMA): junior RB, GISA All-State, All-Region, All-County Offensive Player of the Year, 262 carries for 2,349 yards (8.9 yards per carry) and 38 touchdowns, 5 receptions for 89 yards
Antravius Brookins (BHS): senior WR, All-Region, 21 receptions for 337 yards and 4 touchdowns
JV Brookins (JMA): junior G, All-Region, graded out at 84 percent with 37 pancakes
Landon Courson (JMA): junior FB, All-Region, 15 pancakes on the season
Shatavious Hogan (BHS): freshman WR, All-Region, 30 receptions for 501 yards and 7 touchdowns
Gerald Kilgore (BHS): sophomore QB, Honorable Mention All-Region, 78-of-151 passing for 1,111 yards, 13 touchdowns and 6 interceptions
Devin Kitchens (JMA): junior C, GISA All-State, All-Region, graded out at 90 percent with 56 pancakes
Hunter Noles (JMA): senior K/P, GISA All-Star, All-Region, 70-of-74 PATs, 2-of-4 on field goals with a long of 37, averaged 35 yards per punt
Zaahir Salahuddin (BHS): senior RB, Recruit Georgia/AJC All-State Honorable Mention, Region 3-4A Player of the Year, 87 carries for 704 yards and 10 touchdowns, 5 receptions for 63 yards and 1 touchdown
Tabyous Scott (BHS): senior C, Honorable Mention All-Region, graded out at 80 percent
Lane Stanley (JMA): junior TE, All-Region, graded out at 79 percent with 16 pancakes, 3 receptions for 37 yards and 1 touchdown
Jordan Walls (BHS): senior T, All-Region, graded out at 90 percent
JaNoah Watkins (BHS): senior T, All-Region, graded out at 84 percent
Connor Cullars (JMA): junior G, Honorable Mention All-Region, graded out at 78 percent with 16 pancakes
Taylor Dixon (JMA): junior WR, 10 receptions for 212 yards and 1 touchdown
Noah Hill (BHS): senior RB, All-Region, 83 carries for 400 yards and 7 touchdowns
Grayson Hopkins (JMA): junior QB, Honorable Mention All-Region, 24-of-46 passing for 528 yards, 9 touchdowns and 1 interception, 4 rushing touchdowns
KJ Jackson (JMA): junior RB, All-Region, 38 carries for 553 yards, 7 receptions for 188 yards, 8 total touchdowns
Walker McDade (GMC): senior K/P, Region 7-A Special Teams Player of the Year
Dalton Prestige (JMA): senior T, Honorable Mention All-Region, graded out at 82 percent with 8 pancakes
Marcus Prestwood (JMA): sophomore WR, All-Region, 12 receptions for 281 yards and 5 touchdowns
Garrett Strong (JMA): senior T, Honorable Mention All-Region, graded out at 80 percent with 8 pancakes
Lucas Webb (BHS): senior K/P, All-Region, 26-of-37 on PATs, 4-of-7 on field goals, 35.9 yards per punt
Armanius White (GMC): senior ATH, All-Region