John Milledge football fans were greeted by a familiar sight as their team put up yet another dominant performance Friday.
With the GISA Region 4-AAA championship on the line, the Trojans (8-0) defeated the visiting Westfield Hornets (6-2-1) 41-0 to secure the program’s third-consecutive region title and perfect regular season.
JMA will enter the GISA AAA state playoffs as the top overall seed in the eight-team bracket and look to earn back-to-back state championships. Doing so would also be the school’s third football state championship in history, all since the 2016 season.
Four-year Trojans also have a pretty big point to boast following Friday’s dismantling of Westfield. Seniors who have played all through high school finish their careers with a 37-1 regular-season record, the only loss coming during their freshman year.
“We put a lot of hard work into this,” said Carson Dyer, one of those four-year players. “We’ve definitely earned it.”
But this team has much higher goals than that impressive regular-season mark. Back-to-back state championships are well within their sights and could be as little as three weeks away. Senior linebacker Je’Mazin Roberts believes there’s only one thing standing in the team’s way.
“Ourselves,” he said. “We practice so hard, really the only team that can beat us is ourselves. If we can keep our heads on right and keep focused, we’ll be straight.”
Head coach JT Wall’s Trojans had no problem staying focused against the visiting Hornets. As JMA has done often this season, the offense turned the game’s opening drive into points after quarterback Grayson Hopkins hit senior classmate Taylor Dixon for a 12-yard touchdown. The points were poured on from there as running back Landen Burney finished off a long second drive on a 2-yard burst, and the second quarter was all about Patrick McDonel. He scored three times in the pre-halftime period with a pair of short TD receptions and a QB sneak sandwiched in between. McDonel, whose shown to be a dynamic offensive weapon, finished the night with 79 yards on six carries rushing and 28 yards on three receptions. Hopkins completed 14-of-17 passes for 160 yards on his three-touchdown night.
Coordinator Justin Mills’ defense pitched its fifth shutout in the shortened eight-game regular season. The Trojans finish the pre-playoff slate having given up only 27 points, which is good for a 3.4 points per game average. Every Westfield drive in the first half ended in a three-and-out as the Hornet wing T offense was grounded, accumulating just 27 yards all night long. Their first first down did not come until there were 30 seconds left in the third quarter.
Things got a little testy at times Friday as Westfield did not enjoy the Trojans’ aggressive style of play. That’s been a common occurrence for JMA opponents in a season that has seen the Trojans outscore everyone 360-27 cumulatively.
“We had to try to control our players as well as we could,” Dyer said. “We’d get chirpy at times, but we were definitely the more-disciplined team.”
John Milledge will get to host throughout the state playoffs, though there was no word yet on who the team’s first-round opponent would be as of late Friday night. The GISA AAA MaxPreps power rankings determine seeding and matchups, and those were scheduled to be finalized Saturday.