Jack Nickel

Milton’s Jack Nickel prepares for contest in 2018. The sophomore tight end returns this season.

The 2018 prep football season for public schools in North Fulton saw one squad reach the ultimate achievement in a state championship while others continued their growth with postseason appearances.

Milton, which has been playing varsity football since 1950 won its first state championship in program history with a 14-13 win over Colquitt County in the Georgia High School Association Class 7A title game on Dec. 12 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The Eagles finished their 2018 campaign with 13 wins, another program record, and only its third region title in history.

“Preparation for the upcoming season has been fantastic,” Milton coach Adam Clack said. “The team is very focused on turning the page and working our process to this point to prepare us for the 2019 season. We are excited to put the pads back and continue to build and prepare for a challenging non-region schedule.”

The Eagles return three offensive linemen in seniors Paul Tchio, Amthony Minella and Alec Hutchinson. Sophomore tight end Jack Nickel also comes back along with senior running back Ahmad Junerick. Defensively, seniors Zander Barnett, Marcos Rangel and Jonathan Pittman come back as linemen along with senior linebacker Stephen Michaels and senior athlete Jack Rhodes who had 97 tackles last season. Barnett posted a team-high 10 sacks in 2018.

“From a purely football standpoint, we will look to our veteran leadership on the offensive and defensive lines of scrimmage as we develop several first year starters and underclassmen at key skill positions,” Clack said. “This team will pride itself on discipline, effort, and preparation. We feel like if we execute and eliminate the mental errors we will be a very competitive football team when we compete each Friday night.”

The Eagles open their 2019 campaign against Buford at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville on Aug. 23.

“There is a belief and trust that we have a solid formula to build a competitive team that can compete on the biggest stage and play or best ball when it matters most,” Clack said.

“We also know that last year’s success will not put a single point on the scoreboard for us this year. This is a new year with new challenges and it will be our task like any other year to work through the same steps to build this team week after week.”

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Roswell earned nine wins and a region title last season on its way to a fifth consecutive postseason appearance in Class 7A. The Hornets had an active summer preparing for 2019.

“We may be a little different than other programs in that we lifted five days per week,” Roswell head coach Matt Kemper said.

“We believe strongly that strength is the basis of everything that we do. We divided our summer into three phases, each with specific goals in mind. Throughout all these phases we are constantly striving to develop team chemistry, foster leadership abilities and encourage comradely on our team.”

The Hornets look to return senior quarterback Ethan Roberts, who had 2,274 total yards and 24 touchdowns last season. Senior tight end John Copenhaver had a team-high 759 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in 2018. Roswell visits Campbell on Aug. 30.

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Four local teams look to find their spot in the highly competitive Region 7AAAAAA.

Centennial finished second in the region last season with seven wins and qualified for the playoffs. The Knights return senior wide receiver Richard Shaw, who had a team-high 980 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. Junior Drake Mason also comes back after 770 receiving yards and seven TDs in 2018. Centennial faces Northside (Warner Robins) on Aug. 23.

Alpharetta was also a postseason squad after a fourth place region finish and six wins last year. The Raiders welcome back senior quarterback Will Gerdes, who had 13 touchdown passes last year. Senior Cam Dorsey posted 76 tackles in 2018. Alpharetta visits Milton on Aug. 29.

Cambridge won three contests last season and look to improve with the return of sophomore quarterback Zach Harris, who threw nine touchdown passes in 2018, and junior running back Phillip-Michael Collins, who posted a team-high 11 TD runs last season. Senior Mike Hudson had a team-high 55 tackles last season as well. The Bears host Creekview on Aug. 23.

Chattahoochee looks to bounce back after a winless 2018 campaign.

“The preparation is to focus on the details,” Cougars coach Mike Malone said.

“Do your job, be attentive, pay attention to details and put the team first on and off the field.”

Chattahoochee brings back senior linebacker Parker Jenkins, who had a team-high 91 tackles and senior defensive back Gianluca Jones who had 70 tackles. Senior defensive back Eli Price had a team-high four interceptions in addition to 67 tackles. The Cougars visit Riverwood to open its season on Aug. 23.

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