Milton poses big challenge for South in playoff opener

Milton at South Gwinnett

Milton Eagles (5-AAAAAA)

Coach: Howie DeCristofaro

Record: 7-3

Last week: Beat Woodstock 42-14

South Gwinnett Comets (8-AAAAAA)

Coach: John Small

Record: 8-2

Last week: Beat Parkview 16-14

When: Today, 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: South won 14-12 in 1971

Directions to South Gwinnett High School: From Ga. Highway 78, go south on Skyland Drive. School is on left.

South Gwinnett has seen a couple of opponents with as much star power as Milton has this season.

A 41-0 loss to defending state champion and No. 3 state-ranked Grayson, didn't turn out so well. Neither did a 35-20 loss to No. 2 Norcross

However, coach John Small is hopeful tonight's opening-round game of the Class AAAAAA state playoffs will turn out considerably better.

"We're excited about how we finished the regular season," Small said of last week's 16-14 win over Parkview, which earned the Comets (8-2) the No. 2 seed from Region 8-AAAAAA and home field advantage tonight. "We had a couple of goals at the beginning of the season. One was to win the region championship. Obviously, we didn't quite get that one. But the other goal was to host a playoff game, and we did do that. It's a new season now. I like where we're at."

Still, Small knows the Comets will have their hands full with an Eagles (7-3) team that features several Division I college prospects.

Many of those are on an offensive line that boasts no fewer than four BCS conference-bound players Wake Forest commits Cory Helms and Josh Harris, TCU commit Eason Fromayan and uncommitted Nick Wilson, and averages 6-foot-4 and 282.5 pounds per man.

"Probably the Atlanta Falcons," Small joked when asked if there's a team that Milton compares to. "They're probably the biggest (high school) football team I've ever seen. ... We've got a tall order in front of us."

The Eagles also have big-time prospects in other positions, such as Ole Miss-committed running back Peyton Barber, and Auburn-committed defensive end Carl Lawson.

Still, the Comets have a few weapons of their own, not the least of which is is quarterback Jordan Ramey, as well as running back Josh Boyd and receivers L.J. Gainey and Coray Keel on offense, plus Georgia-bound linebacker Reggie Carter and defensive backs Nick Hylton and Mason Hart on defense.

And despite the size disparity, Small says South will not alter its game plan.

"We do what we do," Small said. "We try to use our speed no matter who we're playing. We've got to get our offense the ball as much as possible, and do something with it when we get it."

The Comets have been able to do something with the ball when they've needed to the most during the past two weeks, especially during two fourth-quarter drives that led to wins over Brookwood and Parkview the last two weeks.

"It was good to see where we had to come from behind and make plays when we had to make plays," Small said. "Those are the kind of games you have to win in the playoffs. Playing them in the regular season was good preparation."