Perfection is unattainable, but the John Milledge Academy football came really close defeating Memorial Day 41-0 Friday to advance to the semifinal GISA AA round.
JMA jumped on a perennial state contender quickly. Trojan head coach J.T. Wall said sometimes the mental schemes play out the right way.
“You play the game in your mind. What if they give us this or we would like to do this,” Wall said. “It never really works out exactly the way you want it. Tonight was pretty close.”
Chris Sealey got the ball rolling with a 36-yard kickoff return. Cooper Morgan went 22 yards for the first touchdown at the 9:21 mark.
Joe Castillo put JMA in a good spot showing his punt return skills in the first quarter.
A 32-yard strike from quarterback Brantley Attaway to Tommy Pittman gave JMA a 14-0 lead. Attaway turned up the jets rushing 50 yards to the goal line soon after.
Bruiser Hunter Harding took a direct snap for a 3-yard touchdown two plays later.
When it looked like the first quarter ran out, an untimed play shocked Memorial. Attaway led Sealey in stride up the sideline, and the talented receiver stiff-armed his way into the end zone.
Up 28-0 after one quarter, the JMA side was rocking.
“We had a couple bullets in the gun. We just had to call them at the right time. Those guys responded well to everything. It was a playoff atmosphere tonight,” Wall said.
The defense really put the work in Friday night. Jeremy Pinkston held down the secondary, while defensive line leaders like Jesse Deariso and Heath McDonald made life hard on the Blue Thunder.
JMA's defense backed up the offense after a second quarter fumble getting possession back fast. Pittman added a 37-rush touchdown to the thrashing.
When Memorial tried for a fourth down conversion, the Trojans let nothing slide. Harding, Chase Register and Andrew Hayes made the crucial tackles.
Dwayne Boone ate up Memorial, recording several tackles. Wall gives all the praise to the defense.
“They get all the credit in the world. When they are making guys go three and out, it makes it easy to call plays. They are fun to watch,” the Trojan coach said.
Deariso said defensive coordinator Dwight Danuser has made great adjustments this season, putting the Trojans in the best position to succeed.
“The defense is completely different under coach Danuser. We stuck to a basic 5-2 last year,” Deariso said. “This year we are switching it up for whoever we play to meet the need.”
Deariso plays the defensive quarterback role each week. The senior checks the group into the proper formations.
JMA played ball control the entire second half, giving the reserves some playoff experience.
Morgan had 21 carries for 138 yards and two touchdowns. Attaway was 5-for-8 passing for 129 yards and two scores. The quarterback also rushed for 54 yards.
Pittman had three rushes for 52 yards and two catches for 45 yards with two touchdowns. Sealey plugged in two catches for 68 yards and a touchdown.
Deariso said he is looking forward to a hard-hitting game against Valwood in next week's powerhouse playoff battle.
“They are the No. 1 team in the state. Hopefully, we can give them a game,” Wall said with a sly smile.