Two bedrocks seeking contention in Georgia’s highest classification, a defending state champion and the newest program in the state highlights a slew of local prep football programs that begin their 2018 campaigns this week.
Milton had a strong 2017 campaign, posting nine wins, and reaching the second round of the Class AAAAAAA playoffs. The Eagles have made the state playoffs six of the past seven years.
“We have had a great fall camp,” Milton head coach Adam Clack said. “Like most teams at this point we still have a lot of work to do but the players and coaches are working extremely hard each day to improve piece-by-piece.”
Milton’s offense averaged 29 points last season which was the most in three years. The Eagles return starting quarterback senior Jordan Yates who threw for 2,011 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. The Georgia Tech verbal commit also had 893 rushing yards and nine TDs on the ground which were both the second-most on the team. Yates’ main targets will be senior receivers Syaire Waters, Dylan Leonard, Jordan Cox and Holden Shaw. Protecting Yates and leading the offensive line will be junior Paul Tchio.
The Eagles’ defense allowed 15 points a contest last year which was also its lowest mark in three seasons. Senior linebacker Jordan Davis posted 95 tackles, the second-most on the team, last season and returns this season along with junior Jack Rhodes (67 tackles) and senior Allen Walker (47 tackles) in the same position. Senior safety Joe Charleston had 67 tackles last year while Waters will also see time as a defensive back.
“For us to be successful this year we will need our leaders to continue to demonstrate and demand relentless effort each and every day, Clack said. “We have a challenging schedule loaded with quality opponents and that was by design. Each week will be an opportunity to prepare, compete and learn something about ourselves. Our ultimate success will be predicated on how well learn from those lessons in our pursuit to become the best possible team we can be.”
Also competing in Class AAAAAAA will be Roswell which won three games last year and extended its postseason appearance streak to four seasons. The Hornets’ offense averaged 20 points last season and returns its leading rusher in senior running back Kamonty Jett who had 1,224 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground in 2017. Two receivers in senior Tripp Cooper and junior Jacob Jarrett will be the main passing targets while seniors Alek Nikolic and Carson Barrett along with junior Trey Zimmerman will anchor the offensive line.
Roswell’s defense allowed 31 points a contest last year. The Hornets will have the services of senior free safety Sam Antona who had a team-high 108 tackles and two interceptions last season. Senior linebacker and University of Florida verbal commit Ty’Ron Hopper had 76 tacklesand a team-high seven sacks last year while senior linebacker Matt Huelsman posted 64 tackles. The rest of the linebackers’ group will include senior Taylor McDonnell and junior Donieko Slaughter. The defensive line will feature senior Shaun Rosenquist and junior Caden Bondurant while senior cornerback Josh Reid will lead the defensive backs.
“The winter, spring, summer and preseason camp has gone extremely well,” Hornets; head coach Matt Kemper said. “We’re fortunate to have a great group of seniors and a nice mix of underclassmen who should contribute on both sides of the ball. As any team would say, we will need to stay healthy and catch a few breaks early in our season if we are to accomplish our goals.”
Blessed Trinity reached the pinnacle last season with a 14-win campaign and brought home the Class AAAA state title for the first time in program history. The Titans’ offense, which averaged 31 points last year, returns senior Jake Smith who threw for 2,029 yards and 18 touchdowns last season. Senior running back and Ohio State verbal commit Steele Chambers rushed for 1,320 yards and 23 touchdowns while junior Elijah Green had 1,290 yards and 10 touchdowns last year. The Titans’ top receiver will be senior Ryan Davis who is a two-time All-State selection who has amassed more than 4,000 all-purpose yards in his career. He had 68 receptions for 1,273 yards and 12 touchdowns last year.
Defensively, Blessed Trinity allowed only 13 points a contest last season led by senior JR Bivens who had a team-high 89 tackles in 2017. Chambers also had 70 tackles last year while senior and University of Georgia verbal commit JD Bertrand had 62 tackles in seven games. Senior Ethan Chauvan is a three-year starter and will handle special team kicking duties.
The Titans, who play in Region 7AAAA, will share the same region as Denmark, one of two new high schools in the Georgia High School Association this year along with Cherokee Bluff. Denmark HS is based in Alpharetta and will be under the guidance of head coach Terry Crowder who spent the previous five seasons at Creekview. He spent nine seasons at Chattahoochee from 2004 through 2012, winning a state title in 2010.