High School Sports

John Milledge, Gatewood one win away from showdown for title

John Milledge head coach J.T. Wall’s Trojans host Valwood on Friday in the GISA Class 3A semifinals.
John Milledge head coach J.T. Wall’s Trojans host Valwood on Friday in the GISA Class 3A semifinals. jvorhees@macon.com

A John Milledge-Gatewood rematch for the GISA Class 3A championship is still very much a possibility. But the Trojans and Gators still have some work to do to get there.

John Milledge hosts Valwood on Friday night in the semifinals, while Gatewood hosts Deerfield-Windsor. The two winners face off Nov. 18 at Mercer’s Five Star Stadium for the Class 3A title.

J.T. Wall’s John Milledge team edged Jeff Ratliff’s Gatewood team 17-10 on Oct. 21.

“That would be great wouldn’t it? It would bring a lot of excitement,” Ratliff said. “I talked to Coach Wall on Friday after their win. We’re excited about that possibility, but he’s got his business to take care of, and we’ve got our business to take care of before we can think about that. We’re excited to be playing in this game, and we’re excited to be playing Deerfield.

“And if we win, it doesn’t matter who we play next. John Milledge would be great, but playing Valwood ... it would just be really nice to play in that game.”

John Milledge is in a familiar position as it tries to win the program’s first GISA title. The Trojans have lost in the semifinals the past four seasons, including a 2012 loss to Valwood.

“We’re trying to get over that hump and just trying to play one more week,” Wall said. “That has kind of been our mantra all year, just play one more week, and we’ll try some different things this week. We’ll try anything right now.”

The Trojans, who beat Valwood two years ago in the quarterfinals, are 12-0. They beat Tiftarea and Pinewood Christian in the first two rounds to get to this point. Valwood is 8-3, beating Westfield and Trinity Christian.

“Our guys have faced the challenge each week, and one way or another, we always seem to get everybody’s best game when we play them,” Wall said. “Our guys rose to the occasion every week, and that’s why we’re sitting here 12-0, sitting in the semifinals.”

Gatewood is 10-2, beating Brookwood and Heritage, while Deerfield is 8-5, beating Augusta Prep and Frederica. The Gators are on the semifinals for the first time since 1999, and they haven’t hosted a semifinal game since 1990 when they won their second GISA title.

“Man, we are excited. We really are,” Ratliff said. “I’ve known Deerfield for a long time, back to my days at Tattnall. (Head coach Allen) Lowe does an outstanding job down there. Those guys are in the race year in and year out, and they have a great program. They’re going to be a big challenge. They are used to being in these games and know what these games mean, so we’ve got our work cut out for us in that regard.

“My guys have just met every challenge week, and I would expect them to have a great week of practice.”