Corky Kell 2019 Previews: Milton vs. Buford

The Milton Eagles are coming off their 14-13 victory over Colquitt County in the AAAAAAA championship game. But after graduating its star dual-threat quarterback, Jordan Yates, this year’s team will be looking for a new identity. Buford is moving on from head coach John Ford, who led the Wolves to a 10-3 record and an 8-AAAAA region title in 2018, and will have longtime assistant Bryant Appling filling the role this season.

Across the state, all eyes are on Milton’s follow-up season after its first-ever state title last year. But the Eagles are laser focused on themselves. And according to head coach Adam Clack, that’s by design.

“Right now, we are just focused on getting ready to start the season,” said Clack. “You’re still really focused on your conditioning and strengths as you’re cementing your foundation, if you will. We are just trying to get this team wrapped around embracing its own identity. Everyone’s going to want to talk about last year and what that team did, and we have players who are returning, but this is a brand-new team and they will succeed on their own laurels. The fact that we were able to play in some big events last year will help this team going forward. Kind of been there before and we know what the big stage is like, but we have to make sure we take 2019 as 2019.”

Throughout Milton’s title run, the Eagles utilized an offense built around Yates. But, following his graduation, Clack says the Eagles are carving a new identity built around experience on both lines of scrimmage and two quarterbacks who are battling for the job.

“That’s the beauty of football and … probably one of the more enjoyable things is that there’s always a problem to solve,” Clack said. “There’s a lot of different ways to win football games and so we are going to build from a place of strength with our lines and allow the young, by experience, quarterbacks to materialize and compete.”

Speaking of experienced lines of scrimmage, the anchor is two-way Clemson commit Paul Tchio, a 6-foot-5 offensive guard who will help carve Milton’s new identity and aid in protecting the new quarterback(s).

On the other side of the field, Buford awaits as it endures a transition period of its own. The offseason saw a quarterback battle between several players with hopes of emerging as the starter. One player who is in the running to lead Buford’s offense is 6-4, 210-pound quarterback Jarvis Evans, who was a backup quarterback last year.

“I would hope to have a kind of solid answer, as far as the first game, before we get there,” Appling said this summer. Historically, Buford has always had a deep running back stable and after graduating its star back Derrian Brown, the Wolves have several lying in wait.

“Elijah Turner was our backup for Derrian Brown last year,” Appling said. “He had a good amount of carries and yards for us. He’s likely the front-runner to get the majority of it. Right behind him, Gabe Ervin, he will be a junior. He’s getting looks in practice and doing a great job. We have always been lucky to have a bunch of backs. It’s just who is going to get the carries behind Elijah and Gabe.”

Opening the season against talent like Milton is a blessing for Appling as it provides a chance to test his players to see where they stand against top-quality competition. However, he’s used to it after serving as the defensive coordinator for years.

“It’s not really that much different,” Appling said. “I say that meaning that we’ve had huge games early in the season. But Milton is a monster to deal with. They’re very versatile and have good players. It is going to be a handful. But I always love to go up against the best early. Going up against a team like Milton, early, it will just benefit your team in the long run, win, lose or draw.”


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