Trojans shocked in state title game; record winning streak comes to end
For the first time in 1,826 days, John Milledge Academy lost a football game.
Valwood trekked up Interstate 75 on a mission, taking the fight to the Trojans and running away with the 42-21 victory in the GIAA Class AAA state championship at Mercer University's Five Star Stadium.
The Valiants (11-1) came out chippy and did plenty of chirping. The gamesmanship and trash-talking apparently worked, as JMA made an unusual amount of mental mistakes and racked up 140 penalty yards. The Valiants also backed up the talk, however, rushing for more 300 yards and holding JMA to less than 100 rushing yards, two things that haven't happened against the Trojans in many, many fortnights.
JMA (12-1) was hunting for its fifth consecutive state title.
The Valwood victory capped off a remarkable turnaround under first-year Head Coach Brad Wells. A mere two years ago, Valwood finished 3-9 before going 7-5 last season.
Despite Thursday night's loss, 2023 was still one of J.T. Wall's best coaching jobs. Wall relied on a number of transfers and new faces this season and had to do plenty of mixing and matching. Roster numbers were way down this year, and the 2023 squad only fielded 36 players. Compare that to JMA's 2020 state title team, which had 60-something players.
This closes the book on the nation's longest current high school football winning streak at 62 games. It was a heckuva ride, but nothing lasts forever and all good things eventually come to an end.