Sep. 22—The John Milledge Academy football team just about cannot travel any further to play an in-league opponent than this Friday night's road trip.
The undefeated Trojans (4-0) will hit the highway almost 200 miles to Thomasville's Brookwood School, where they will meet the 2-2 Warriors.
"We went as far west as we can go," JMA head coach J.T. Wall said referring to his team's Aug. 26 game played at the University of West Georgia. "Now we're going as far south as we can go."
Southwest, to be exact, to Brookwood, who holds the 3-2 advantage head-to-head versus the Trojans, though the two programs have not met since the 2012 playoffs. Friday night will be the first regular season matchup between the Trojans and Warriors since 1985. Looking at a map, it's not hard to see why JMA and Brookwood have not scheduled one another in nearly 40 years.
To combat all that time spent on the bus, Wall's team is planning to stop about midway through the trip for a pregame meal, stretch, and walkthrough to keep the players focused on the task at hand.
The Trojans' opponent is one unlike any they have seen so far in 2022. Wall estimates that the Warrior offense under head coach Shane Boggs throws the football 75% of the time.
"Coach Shane Boggs does a great job year in and year out," the JMA head coach said of his Friday night counterpart. "He's been known for his creative passing game and causing people problems."
Leading Brookwood's pass-heavy offense is big junior quarterback Rodge Waldrop, who has already eclipsed 1,000 yards throwing through four games. The lefty also does a good job of taking care of the football as he's totaled 12 touchdowns versus only two interceptions in 93 attempts according to stats on MaxPreps. His two main targets are senior Destin Moore and junior T.J. Thomas. That duo has accounted for over 70% of the Warriors' receiving yards this season.
Wall believes Friday night will be a good challenge for his defensive backfield.
"We know they're going to complete some passes on us, so we've got to be able to learn from it and move on to the next play," he said.
It will be the job of the Trojan front line and blitzing linebackers to make Waldrop as uncomfortable as possible while also finding a balance between not falling victim to screen passes.
"We feel like our guys up front are athletic and fast enough to cause some problems, but Brookwood does such a good job of mixing in the screen game that they kind of catch you off-guard," said Wall.
Looking at the other side of the ball for both teams, Brookwood is giving up 26.5 points per game this season. The Warrior defense has the tough task of trying to slow down a JMA offense that averages just over 50 points following last week's 63-13 drubbing of Frederica. It's anybody's guess where the football is going when the Trojans have possession. Senior quarterback Briggs Eady and junior running back Javian Butts are neck-and-neck with their season rushing totals, and the ball winds up in a different pair of hands just about every time Eady throws it.
Put all of that together, and it just might add up to consecutive win No. 42 for JMA football, but that won't stop Brookwood from trying to play the part of spoiler.
The Trojans and Warriors are set to kick off 7:30 p.m. Friday in Thomasville.