For head coach Howie DeCristofaro, that means a date with cross-town rival Roswell, and an opportunity to get a leg up on the rest of 5AAAAAA in the race to the state playoffs.
“It’s of the utmost importance that we win this game and get off to a good start,” said DeCristofaro, now in his second year as Milton head coach. “Friday night’s winner is going to have a huge advantage on the other and the loser is really going to be playing from behind in a really tough region.”
Through non-region play, 5AAAAAA teams have some of the more impressive resumes in the state’s highest classification. At the top, Lassiter carries a 3-0 record and a No. 2 ranking in the state. 2011 state runner-up Walton opened the season with wins over top-five ranked McEachern and Brookwood, and Wheeler has surprised many in the state with a 3-0 start of their own.
“At that point, you’re going to have to beat a few really good teams just to get back in it, and there isn’t a lousy team in this region.”
Milton, who has aspirations of contending with the region’s elite, has wins over Alpharetta (35-28), Centennial (52-24) and a narrow loss to undefeated Johns Creek (14-9) this season.
DeCristofaro said that, to date, the season has been a mixed bag of negative and positives, with the Eagles needing to improve their focus and consistency first and foremost.
“We’re miles and miles away from where I want to be and I can’t say I’m completely happy with our offense, defense or special teams,” he said. “We’ve come out in each game and started well, but we really haven’t really finished a game off.”
Friday night’s challenge brings Roswell (1-2) to town, a team that DeCristofaro said is much improved from last year and better than their record shows.
“They are going to be a huge challenge, starting with [Andrew] Kwateng who is playing like one of the best backs in the state of Georgia,” said DeCristofaro of the Roswell running back that has 558 yards and five touchdowns through three games. “You see him and he looks like Tyren Jones at Walton, then their offensive line is playing well and their quarterback is really good too.”
Roswell has a win over Centennial (42-13) and losses to Lambert (19-17) and Johns Creek (45-24) this season.
“We’ll have to play four quarters of really good football to win.”