J.T. Wall has one more game to coach this season, but it’ll be more fun than stress.
The John Milledge head coach will lead the East team at 2 p.m. on Saturday in the GISA Senior All-Star Game at Westfield.
He’ll have plenty familiar faces on the sideline, since thhe Trojans have seven players on the team: back Noah Lavender, quarterback Trevor Evans, linebacker Dawson Huff, wideout/defensive back Andrew Prestwood, defensive end Cole Miller, place-kicker Riley Denton and lineman Cole Yarbourgh.
Other Middle Georgia participants on the East are Brentwood running back Brandt Burley, Trinity Christian offensive lineman Jackson Brack, and the Gatewood trio of linebacker Tyler Myers, defensive back/place-kicker Matthew Weeks and wide receiver Ross Cheshire.
John Milledge assistants Justin Mills and Cody Mahler are part of the East staff.
Windsor athlete Marquis Jackson and quarterback/linebacker Jonathan Osborn head the West squad, and they are joined by Piedmont lineman Ben Smith, quarterback Mack Brady and wideout/defensive back Michael Edwards.
Piedmont head coach Wes Tanner is on the West staff.
On the road again
Of Middle Georgia’s five remaining GHSA football teams, three are on the road, and two rides are of similar distances, less than 110 miles for Mary Persons to Cartersville and Northside to Hallford Stadium in Clarkston to play Tucker.
Tattnall Square is barely leaving the area to play Eagle’s Landing Christian, about an hour away.
ECI will take close to 2 1/2 hours to get to Macon County, and Greater Atlanta Christian will cover about two hours and 120 miles from Norcross to Peach County.
The GHSA has moved two games because home stadiums lacked the proper capacity to host semifinal games.
Jefferson won the coin flip with Thomson in Class 4A, but the game will be played at Thomson, about 90 miles away. Jefferson was in Class 3A last year and had enough seats to host a game in that classification. Renovations to expand the stadium have been in the works.
In Class 7A, neither Roswell nor Westlake have stadiums big enough (6,000), so they’ll play at Lakewood Stadium in south Atlanta. Roswell is nearly 40 miles away, Westlake about 15.
There are some long rides to be had, like Hapeville Charter to Fitzgerald (185 miles) and Cedar Grove to Crisp County (130 miles).
Callaway, north of LaGrange, visits Benedictine in Savannah. The Cavaliers have about four hours and 260 miles to cover.
That’s less than the 320 miles from Valdosta — about 16 miles from the Florida line — to Dalton — roughly 15 miles from the Tennessee line.
Degrees of separation
There’s a version of “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” available for the semifinals.
Two Northside alumni are still coaching, Northside’s Kevin Kinsler and Macon County’s Dexter Copeland.
Houston County played four teams still alive: Valdosta, Northside, Mary Persons and Peach County.
Macon County has played Northside, and Mary Persons faced Peach County.
Peach County assistant coach Lee Campbell could face his former employer in the Class 3A championship game. Crisp County is undefeated under second-year head coach and former Cougars player Shelton Felton.
Eagle’s Landing Christian head coach Jonathan Gess knows a little bit about Tattnall Square in general, Gess having been an assistant at FPD before taking over at ELCA.
Inside some numbers
Four of the five Middle Georgia head coaches still alive have combined for a pretty nifty composite record.
Northside’s Kevin Kinsler, Mary Persons’ Brian Nelson Peach County’s Chad Campbell and Macon County’s Dexter Copeland are 359-104, winning 77.5 percent of the time.
Copeland has the most years (16) and most schools (three, with two stints at Twiggs County). Kinsler, Nelson and Campbell are still in their first head coaching positions.
None have had a first season as a head coach to match that of Tattnall Square’s Chance Jones, whose Trojans are 12-0.
His colleagues’ first seasons: 10-1 in 2010 for Kinsler, 10-3 in 2012 for Nelson, 8-3 in 2007 for Campbell and 3-7 in 2001 for Copeland at Twiggs County.
Former Veterans standout Cortez Broughton has added a nice line to the resume.
Broughton earned a spot on the American Athletic Conference’s all-conference second team. The Cincinnati defensive tackle started all 12 games and had 42 tackles, 2.5 sacks and an interception.
The sophomore had 26 tackles in 11 games last season. He played in two games in 2014 before suffering an injury.