Game: Milton (8-0, 4-0) at Cherokee (8-1, 3-1), Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Milton won 28-21
All-time series: Milton leads 18-14
Prediction: Cherokee 24, Milton 21
A series that began more than 60 years ago will resume this week with a region title on the line.
Milton (8-0, 4-0) will travel to Cherokee (8-1, 3-1) this Friday in the final regular-season game for both sides. Both teams will enter the game knowing a win would lock up the Region 5AAAAAAA championship along with a No. 1 playoff seed. A win for Milton would give the Eagles their third-straight region title. For Cherokee, a win would give the Warriors their first region title since 2002, and first outright region championship in the 65-year history of the program.
“Obviously, it would be important and we talked to the players about the opportunity of sitting in front of us,” Cherokee coach Josh Shaw said. “It just doesn’t happen around here all the time. But the most important thing is getting one of those top two seeds and being able to host a playoffs game.”
The only scenario where Cherokee would fall to the No. 3 seed would include a Cherokee loss along with Alpharetta losing to Etowah and Roswell defeating Woodstock.
The first game between Cherokee and Milton was in 1956, also on the final week of the regular season, and this year’s contest should be worth the price of admission. Milton enters the game ranked No. 10 in AAAAAAA while Cherokee also saw time in the top-10 earlier this season. Milton is coming off a 52-21 win at Woodstock while Cherokee is coming off a bye.
Both rosters include multiple college prospects and a pair of college-level running backs should lead the way. Cherokee’s Keith Adams Jr. entered last week as the leading rusher in Class AAAAAAA with 1,246 yards (138 yards per game) and 15 touchdowns while Milton’s Jordan McDonald is coming off a four-touchdown performance against Woodstock, and has amassed 785 yards (112 per game) and 17 total touchdowns.
“We have got to be able to contain McDonald and on the flip side we’ve got to establish the run,” Shaw said. “Our offensive line coach Brett O’Buck has done a phenomenal job this year and has meshed with coach our offensive coordinator coach (Justin) Pearce. I think having those two guys on the same page has been huge for us.”
The quarterbacks are college prospects, too. Cherokee’s A.J. Swann leads the county with 1,757 yards and 18 touchdowns while Milton’s Devin Farrell has 1,418 yards with 14 touchdowns.
This game will also feature two of the better defenses in Class AAAAAAA. Milton defensive lineman Lebbeus Overton is the No.1 player in the country for the Class of 2023 and the Eagles have several other college prospects on that side of the including cornerback Bryce Thornton and safety Zyere Horton.
Cherokee’s defense allowed 216 total yards to Alpharetta in its last game played and has caused 17 turnovers this season. Braesen Parker leads Cherokee County with 105 tackles while Riley Lyons and Keegan Baker are tied for the county lead with three interceptions apiece.
“I feel like our football team is right in the mix is with the other Class AAAAAAA teams,” Shaw said. “I think our team has been overlooked since we lost to Roswell and I would like for us to slide under the radar. It’s going to be an exciting week.”