Milton, North Gwinnett win at Brent Key/Corky Kell + Dave Hunter 7-on-7, looking hard to guard entering the season

North Gwinnett and Milton are two teams to keep an eye on this upcoming football season and with how both teams looked at the Brent Key/Corky Kell + Dave Hunter Classic 7-on-7 tournament at the Georgia Tech football facilities, it is not a surprise.

North Gwinnett played on Day 1 of the tournament, and they showed how dangerous its offense looks.

Erik Ronning, who totaled 34 receptions, 584 receiving yards, and eight touchdowns last season for the Bulldogs, played a factor in roughly every game. He caught a go-ahead touchdown reception that helped North Gwinnett take down McIntosh, 24-22, in the first round of the single elimination bracket. His outstanding athleticism and sensational catches for touchdowns provided a spark for the Bulldog offense.

Rising senior wide receiver Nicholas Bookman was also a key player for the North Gwinnett offense last season. He accumulated 34 receptions, 377 receiving yards, and four touchdowns last season for the Bulldogs. Bookman played a big part of North Gwinnett getting through pool play and the single elimination bracket.

Rising sophomore quarterback Elam Rahman was outstanding throughout the day with powerful and accurate throws to many different receivers for touchdowns. He connected with Ronning, Bookman, Tommy Lafayette, Max Patterson, Evan Hawkins, and Samford Halcomb for a handful of touchdowns. Working behind senior quarterback Ryan Hall, this season will be beneficial for Rahman as he is likely to take the starting the job in the 2025 season.

The defense is an X-factor for North Gwinnett this upcoming season having the linebackers, cornerbacks, and safeties all stand out for the Bulldogs.

Rising sophomore linebacker Jake Godfree was outstanding all day. The linebacker had an interception in the Bulldogs pool play game against McIntosh and a pass deflection in the rematch against the Chiefs in the single elimination tournament. Last season as a freshman he had 78 tackles (43 solo), three sacks, one interception, and one fumble recovery. Godfree’s performance during the 7-on-7 tournament earned him an offer from Georgia Tech.

Rising junior linebacker Ethan Robinson was all over the field for the Bulldogs. He was making plays, displaying good coverage in a play against the McIntosh offense in the single elimination game. Last season he had 25 tackles (16 solo), one pass deflection, and two fumble recoveries.

On the backend of the Bulldogs defense, the cornerbacks and safeties made some big plays for North Gwinnett.

Safety Andruw Gist played great in coverage against McIntosh in the single elimination game. He forced an interception at the end of the elimination game against Hampton where he caught a tipped pass in the end zone to make the interception. Last season he totaled eight tackles (seven solo) in his sophomore season.

North Gwinnett defensive backs Chauncey Davis and CJ Hollinquest make for a dynamic pair in the Bulldogs secondary. As a sophomore, Davis had 29 tackles (24 solo), four interceptions, and four pass deflections.  Hollinquest played good in coverage in multiple games. Last season he added 31 tackles (21 solo), and one pass deflection to North Gwinnett’s defensive stats.

Last season the Bulldogs went 8-4 and 5-1 in Class 7A Region 7, finishing third in that region. They lost to Walton 48-19 on the road in the second round of the Class 7A playoffs in head coach Eric Godfree’s first season with the program. For next season, North Gwinnett will be playing in 6A Region 6 as opposed to 7A where they have previously played.

Overall, this team is loaded on offense with the receivers that stood out on Day 1 and with impressive quarterback play from Rahman. The defense looks like they can lock down and prevent big passing plays with good coverage, pass deflections, and interceptions.

Milton competed on day two of the tournament and picked up right where they left off, dominating almost every team they faced. The Eagles offense could not be stopped, and the defense matched the offense’s production.

Rising senior quarterback, and University of Miami-commit Luke Nickel delivered an outstanding performance, throwing accurate passes all over the field to his receivers. Last season as a junior, he went 277-419, throwing for 3,914 yards, 39 touchdowns, and five interceptions. The Class 7A defending champions came into 7-on-7 with high expectations and continued to deliver.

The receiving core for Milton was lights out throughout the day, which was a big part as to why Milton was so successful in the tournament.

Georgia tight end commit, Ethan Barbour, was a force on the outside as he kept making plays. Last season he caught 49 passes, and totaled 966 receiving yards, and 12 touchdowns. He is adding to an already dominant Milton offense and is poised for an exciting senior season.

Milton 4-star wide receiver CJ Wiley has been dominating opposing defenses for the last three years and continued that at 7-on-7s. Last season he was huge for the Eagles offense catching 68 passes for 1,473 receiving yards, and 14 touchdowns. Just like Barbour, Wiley is heading into his senior season with a plethora of offers.

While Wiley and Barbour receive tons of attention from defenses, Tristen Payne is another weapon on the Milton offense that deserves recognition. He had multiple games with two or more touchdowns in the tournament. Last season as a junior, he caught 41 passes, 609 receiving yards, and six touchdowns. The trio is due for another big season ahead of them.

Milton’s receiving corps continues to excel. Jordan Carrasquillo is a very underrated name when it comes to the Milton receivers’ group. He had an amazing catch for a touchdown against Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy.

Rising Sophomore Grant Haviland and Rising Senior TJ Lester also found the end zone for Milton.

The Milton defense is a key part of this team’s success, showing up when it matters most.

Tyler Redmond had more than four interceptions throughout the day including two one-hand interceptions which put spectators’ jaws on the floor. Last season as a junior, he had 34 tackles (24 solo), two interceptions, and two pass deflections.

Dylan Lewis got an interception in the 44-6 win over Miller Grove. Last season he had 31 tackles (27 solo), four interceptions, and 14 pass deflections. He is entering his senior season.

Milton finished last season 13-2 and 5-0 in Class 7A Region 6, finishing first in that region. They won the Class 7A state championship as they defeated the Walton Raiders 31-21. This is Milton’s second state championship in program history, in head coach Ben Reaves third season with the team. Milton will be in Class 5A Region 7 this season.

This team has what it needs to win the state championship. They are loaded on both sides of the ball. Nickel is poised to have yet another big season. The expectations are sky-high this year for the Milton Eagles.

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