SANDERSVILLE — Well, it wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win.
Brentwood’s scoreboard read 21-10 in favor of the visiting John Milledge Academy Trojans (2-0), but JMA head coach J.T. Wall had different feelings following his team’s victory. Wall’s Trojans were coming off a 37-0 win to kick off their season, and encountered a much tougher challenge than they expected on the road against the War Eagles.
“I think everybody in our camp feels like it’s a loss,” Wall said. “We had no energy, and that goes for coaches, players and fans. You could hear a whisper out there tonight. I think it had a lot to do with everybody telling us all week long how good we were. If you look up the definition of a trap game, this was it. I think a lot of our guys overlooked Brentwood. They’re a good football team, so you’ve got to give them credit too, but we didn’t play the style of football we’re accustomed to playing. Luckily we had a couple breaks and the ball bounced our way every now and then.”
Brentwood’s wing T offense moved the football up and down the field consistently, but was kept out of the end zone almost the entire night. The normally highly potent Trojan offense without a doubt has some things to clear up moving forward. The unit put up more points in the second half against Gatewood last week than it did the entire game at Brentwood Friday.
“Offensively is where we’re more concerned right now,” the playcaller Wall said. “This makes two weeks in a row now where we haven’t really got to where we’re clicking. We’ve gotta figure some things out and look at ourselves in the mirror as coaches and players. That’s where we’re at.”
The difference in the final score being a two-score margin instead of one was a strange special teams play that had the visitors first scratching their heads and then throwing their arms up to cheer. It was midway through the second quarter when Brentwood had driven the football down just 1 yard from the goal line. It looked as though the Eagles had scored to get on the board first on fourth and goal, but a penalty pushed them back to the 5. They opted to attempt a short field goal, but that plan backfired — quite literally. The kick ricocheted off the pile of players at the line of scrimmage and into the waiting hands of JMA quarterback/free safety Patrick McDonel, whose heels were about a yard from his own goal line. He quickly kicked himself into gear and zipped down the home sideline for the 99-yard score that put his team up 7-0.
“Never,” Coach Wall said when asked if he had ever seen anything like it. “Without that we were in a serious dogfight. I knew if he got in the open field he was gone. It was a great job by him of being a heads-up player. He’s a smart kid.”
John Milledge’s next offensive possession, its final before the half, proved to be fruitful. A 17-yard catch-and-run by junior K.J. Jackson moved the Trojans down to the Brentwood 22. Shortly after, his classmate Amaad Foston bounced a carry out to the left side to score from 12 yards out, giving him four TD rushes so far this season.
Foston would go on to score his fifth, halfway through the third, and once again it was a big pass play that helped set him up. McDonel, in his role at quarterback now, found sophomore wideout Marcus Prestwood deep down the middle of the field for a 40-yard gain. Making the highlight all the more impressive is the fact that Prestwood is basically playing the game with one hand — because one of his mitts is covered by a cast. The Trojans were up 21-0 at that point, but that’s when things turned a bit sour.
Mistakes marred the visitors’ chances of increasing their lead. A safety, sacks given up and fumbles allowed Brentwood to cut into the lead and make the final score 21-10. The Eagles got the ball with five minutes left, but ended up milking the remainder of the clock and left two timeouts in their pocket. Making JMA’s ugly stretch even worse was the loss of senior outside linebacker Justin Aldridge who went down with a leg injury late in the third. Brentwood was having success running away from him all night. The extent of his injury is not yet known, but if it’s severe, his lack of presence will be felt.
“That’s a huge loss,” said Wall. “He’s not only the heartbeat of this defense, he’s the heartbeat of the team. That kid’s a hard worker. We’re going to lift him up in our prayers and hopefully it’s nothing major.”
The Trojans will be on the road again next week, this time heading to Dublin to face the Trinity Christian Crusaders. Friday night, Trinity was down 35-0 at halftime against the same Gatewood team that JMA defeated 37-0 just over a week ago.