The 2019 high school football season is now a month away and programs around the state are getting ready to hit the practice field Thursday.
Just a few days into their preseason practice period The Union-Recorder is set to hold the fourth annual local high school football media day on Milledgeville’s Central Georgia Technical College campus. This year’s event is scheduled for Monday, July 29 at 1 p.m. inside the CGTC conference center, located on the back side of the local campus, and the public is encouraged to attend. Coaches and players from Baldwin High School, GMC Prep and John Milledge Academy have all agreed to attend and are ready to discuss the prospects for the 2019 season. Each school gets about 15 minutes at the forefront to answer questions about this year’s team and explain why this could be their year.
Baldwin High School
The Braves will once again be led into battle by head coach Jesse Hicks, who is entering the third year of his second tenure coaching BHS. The Braves’ 7-6 record in 2018 does little in the way of telling that team’s story. They opened the year on an 0-5 losing streak against competition mostly above their own Class 4A before Hicks’ tough scheduling gambit paid off in a big way. Baldwin won each of its last five regular season games, which included a perfect 4-0 mark in Region 3-4A. The Braves made waves in the postseason by winning their first two games in convincing fashion before losing to eventual state runner-up Cartersville 42-13 in the quarterfinals. Coach Hicks welcomes back the outstanding running back duo of rising seniors Zaahir Salahuddin and Noah Hill, nicknamed Smash and Dash respectively. Arguably the team’s biggest question mark lies in the defensive backfield, a unit that housed most of the team’s senior playmakers last year. Do the Braves have the athletes to replace that talented group? Hicks’ team opens the season Saturday, Aug. 24 at Mercer University against Washington County. Can it get revenge for last year’s season-opening loss?
After a few years of playing a non-region schedule, the Bulldogs jumped back into Region 7-A play in 2018 but wound up being a non-factor. GMC Prep, under now departed head coach Steven Simpson, opened the season with three straight wins before coming up on the losing end in the last seven. Right at the end of the 2018-19 school year Simpson announced he was leaving his head coach/athletic director post at GMC to become the defensive coordinator at Warren County, another Region 7-A school. The local military prep school looked to its junior college program for Simpson’s replacement and named Lee Coleman as the new head coach. Coleman has stepped into his first head coaching role and first job at the high school level after having been the wide receivers coach for the GMC JUCO program these last five years. Will an almost all-new coaching staff invigorate the program and help lift the Bulldogs to their first region win in years? GMC will be running a different offense from the last three years. How are the returning players responding to the change? Coach Coleman’s Bulldogs are set to open the 2019 slate Friday, Aug. 23 at home against Glascock County.
John Milledge Academy
John Milledge Academy football has been a force to be reckoned with on the GISA AAA landscape, especially ever since J.T. Wall took over. Since Wall accepted the head coaching position at his alma mater eight years ago, the Trojans have never lost more than four games in a season, barring his first in 2011. That dominance was on full display last year when Wall and the Trojans had a perfect regular season on their march to the GISA AAA state championship game. It was in that title matchup against Frederica Academy that John Milledge met a freight train, losing 48-0 to the talented Knights. Are the Trojans using that loss as motivation for this season? Wall lost a group of seniors that served as great leaders for that team, including his quarterback and a couple of do-it-all athletes, but one important piece that remains is running back Amaad Foston. As just a sophomore, Foston rushed for nearly 2,200 yards and scored a ridiculous-sounding 27 touchdowns. He’ll be back to give big colleges more game film to view as he works toward more offers. Will defenses be stacking the box in order to stop Foston on the ground, or does Coach Wall have the pieces to make his offense the machine it has been in recent years?
—For more information on the media day event, contact sports reporter Gil Pound at email@example.com.