BELLVILLE, Ga. — Having one less practice day to prep wound up being no problem for the John Milledge Academy football team Friday night.
The Trojans were originally scheduled to host Bulloch Academy this week, but COVID issues on the part of the Statesboro school forced a postponement. Pinewood Christian was in a similar predicament as its opponent, Valwood, was also dealing with virus concerns. JMA head coach JT Wall and Pinewood head Keith Wasson got together Tuesday around noon and decided to play their game, which a couple of weeks ago had been postponed to Oct. 27, in Bellville Friday.
The topsy-turvy situation isn’t one the routine-oriented Coach Wall wants to find himself in again anytime soon, but the result still looked very similar to many Trojan matchups in recent years as JMA took the non-region road contest 35-0. Wall praised his players for their flexibility in a postgame phone interview with The Union-Recorder.
“It was hectic and chaotic,” he said of this week. “The one thing we do have in our favor is that we have so many returning starters on both sides of the ball. These seniors have played a ton of ballgames for us. We take a lot of things for granted with what we’re blessed with right now. All that prior experience really benefitted us tonight.”
The Trojans boast more than 20 seniors on the 2020 roster, and many of them have seen significant playing time since their sophomore year. Among that group is speedy quarterback/free safety Patrick McDonel, who had one heck of a night in Bellville. Unofficially, he had three carries for 156 yards that all went for touchdowns before halftime. Officially, he accounted for four total scores on the night as he hit senior wideout Taylor Dixon for a 20-yard TD with less than three minutes to play before half.
“He’s an athlete, and if we can get him in space there aren’t many people that are going to catch him,” Wall said of McDonel. “He did a really great job on both sides of the ball for us tonight.”
Grayson Hopkins, who’s known as more of a thrower from QB, hit Marcus Prestwood for six to finish off the Trojans’ scoring efforts before halftime.
Defensively, John Milledge pitched its first shutout of the 2020 season. The unit has some work to do to catch up to last year’s Trojan defense that put up seven goose eggs in 13 games. Friday, they hemmed up one of the GISA’s more dynamic athletes in Pinewood quarterback Mic Wasson. The Patriot offense’s best effort ended with a 38-yard missed field goal at the end of the third quarter.
“They’re the ones that are setting us up to call an easy game offensively. That defense is fun to watch because they play so fast and physical,” Wall said.
The Trojans are scheduled to take their third consecutive road trip of the season next week, albeit a short one. They will ride up 441 to take on the two-time defending GISA AA state champion Gatewood Gators (3-0) who were idle Friday night.
“Any time you play Gatewood you’ve got to be ready,” said Wall. “Like a lot of people on our schedule, Gatewood had an open week this week before playing us, so we know we’ll have our hands full. Any time you go to Eatonton you better prepare for a four-quarter battle.”