Just one win stands between John Milledge Academy football and its third perfect regular season in four years.
The unbeaten Trojans (1-0 region, 9-0 overall) will hit the road this week to take on the Augusta Prep Cavaliers, a team looking to play spoiler to JMA’s perfect season. That’ll be a tall task for the squad that lost 65-0 to Region 4-AAA’s Bethlehem Christian, a team the Trojans took a 51-0 lead into halftime against. Transitive property aside, John Milledge still has to go out onto the field and take care of business if it wants the region championship and home-field advantage throughout the GISA AAA state playoffs.
Staring a down opponent and a perfect 10-0 record in the face, head coach J.T. Wall says keeping his team focused hasn’t been a challenge out on the practice field this week.
“Practice has been good and the guys have been responding well,” said Wall. “We’re trying to finish up this regular season and move on to the playoffs, but we’ve got to stay on the task at hand first and that’s a road trip to Augusta for a region championship.”
An unlikely JMA loss would trigger a three-way tie for top spot in the region, so a tiebreaker would be enforced. First-half points allowed among tied teams is the chosen method, but again, that only comes into play if the Cavaliers can shock the entire GISA on its home field Friday.
“They’re a scrappy bunch,” Wall said of Augusta Prep. “You’ve got to tip your hat to Coach Bacheller (Harry, AP head coach) and that whole program. It’s easy for our guys to come to practice right now because we’re 9-0. They’re 0-9 and have taken some bad beatings and are low in numbers. There’s a level of respect you’ve got to have for him and that program because they keep practicing and playing.”
In last year’s Trojan-Cavalier meeting in Milledgeville, Prep threw the football around the field almost exclusively while losing 48-7. The graduation of the team’s 2018 All-State quarterback Justin Meddings has brought about a change in scheme as the AP offense now lines up in a two-tight end, single-wing look that has the team running the football about 80 percent of the time or more, per Wall.
Asked what he needs to see from his team on the field Friday night, the JMA head coach said, “We’ve got to have the same level of intensity that we’ve had all year. There’s more at stake this game than there has been in any game this season. Region championship and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs are on the line, so we’ve got to worry about us and finish the task at hand. When we started this season one of our goals was to be 10-0 at the end of the regular season, so that’s what we’re trying to accomplish this week.”
If the Trojans can handle their end they’ll be blessed with an opening round bye when the state playoffs begin next week, only two wins away from a return trip to Mercer University for the state championship.
Friday’s kickoff between John Milledge and Augusta Prep is set for 7:30 p.m. in Augusta.