What a difference a year makes.
In 2018, the John Milledge and Frederica Academy football teams met twice, splitting the two decisions. The Knights hailing from St. Simons Island won the one that really mattered though as they pounded the Trojans 48-0 to win last season’s 2018 GISA AAA state championship. On Friday night, JMA got the revenge it had been waiting nearly a full calendar year for. Head coach J.T. Wall’s Trojans dominated the defending state champs 50-0 to move to 9-0 on the season. Meanwhile the Knights, fielding a very different team than the one that took the field a year ago, dropped to 4-4.
“That’s a good ball club over there,” Coach Wall said referring to Frederica. “We played good, solid football all the way around in all three phases. In my mind though we left too many points on the field, especially in the first half. It should have been a lot worse than it was.”
John Milledge football is now one win away from securing the program’s third perfect regular season in four years as well as a fifth region championship in the last eight tries.
For the Trojan seniors, Friday was the last regular season home game they will play on their home field, and they most definitely went out in style.
“This really just hits home,” JMA senior Justin Aldridge said after the win. “Our defense did amazing and our offense played a heck of a game. Amaad (Foston) did a great job running the football tonight. The whole thing was great.”
Foston did indeed do a great job running the football Friday night. He was hemmed up for minimal yardage in last year’s state championship meeting with the Knights, but this time around both he and his blockers were playing like men possessed. Foston totaled 192 yards on 26 carries and scored a trio of touchdowns, a couple of which came from one yard out after he was tackled just shy of the goal line on previous carries.
Defensively John Milledge notched its third shutout in four games and allowed the Frederica offense to leave its own territory on only a couple of occasions.
“It was a full team effort, as cliché as it sounds,” said JMA defensive coordinator Justin Mills. “The D-line, linebackers, all the way to the secondary — everybody played really, really well tonight. That’s a good team we just played, and we had to play really well to do what we did. It’s hard to forget what happened last year in the state championship, for me personally and these guys as players, so it was nice to see us keep the shutout intact and I'm proud of these guys.”
Friday marked the first game in which junior transfer quarterback Grayson Hopkins was given the keys to the Trojan offense full-time. He and Aldridge had been splitting time under center with original starter Patrick McDonel recuperating from a broken collarbone suffered in late September. Against Frederica Hopkins connected with receivers Taylor Dixon and Marcus Prestwood for a pair of passing touchdowns (52 and 26 yards respectively) in the second quarter and snuck into the end zone from a yard out twice to account for four scores on the night.
“He’s got a lot to clean up,” Coach Wall said of Hopkins. “He did well, but we can’t have bobbled snaps and some of the miscues that we had, but all in all he played pretty good for this only being his third or fourth game. I’m proud of the way he’s playing, and the guys are responding well with him under center.”
The Trojans now have their sights set on Augusta Prep, which is where they will travel to next week for the regular season finale with the Region 4-AAA championship on the line. The Cavaliers were a winless 0-8 entering play Friday against Thomas Jefferson Academy.
“Tonight was definitely a statement game, but we’ve still got to be prepared for the region championship next week,” Aldridge said. “We’ve just got to prepare like it’s any other game.”