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Atlanta high school sports news from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Position-by-position look at Colquitt, Milton

Colquitt County and Milton will meet for the Class AAAAAAA championship on Wednesday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Here’s a position-by-position comparison of the two teams.

Colquitt County (14-0) is seeking its third state title in five years. Milton (12-2) is making its first appearance in a championship game.

Quarterback: The passing statistics for these teams are remarkably similar. Milton’s Jordan Yates is 176-of-275 for 2,420 yards and 23 touchdowns with seven interceptions. He’s committed to Georgia Tech. Colquitt’s Jaycee Harden, a first-year starter, is 169-of-259 for 2,396 yards and 22 touchdowns with six interceptions. Colquitt wouldn’t be in the finals if not for some clutch throws that he made in the semifinals against Archer. The difference is that Yates is more experienced, having put up over 3,000 all-purpose yards in consecutive seasons, and is a dual-threat guy. He’s run for 858 yards and would be over 1,000 if not for sack yardage.

Edge: Milton

Running back: Milton’s Josh Edwards has rushed for 1,105 yards and 18 touchdowns on 198 carries. And then there’s Yates, a great runner, but he’s not a quarterback. Colquitt has perhaps the best pair of backs in the state. Daijun Edwards has run for 1,379 yards and 26 touchdowns, and Ty Leggett has run for 931 and 15 touchdowns. And Leggett has another 240 yards receiving.

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Edge: Colquitt County

Wide receiver/tight end: Milton’s Dylan Leonard, a WR/TE type, has 46 receptions for 837 yards and 10 touchdowns. He’s a big-play threat and a matchup challenge at 6 feet, 5 inches. Holden Shaw, a possession receiver, has 47 receptions for 449 yards. Colquitt has 12 receivers with TD receptions, so the depth is outstanding. The top receiver is speedy sophomore Lemeke Brockington with 29 catches for 589 yards and six touchdowns. 

Edge: Milton

Offensive line: Colquitt has a veteran line with one three-year starter, center Will Rykard, and three two-year starters. Rykard (6-2, 270) is committed to UAB. Kamaar Bell (6-3, 320) is a three-star recruit. Milton’s offensive line has come along surprisingly well after graduating four all-region players. It helps having junior Paul Tchio, a two-year starter who is committed to Clemson. 

Edge: Colquitt County

Defensive line: Colquitt’s line, led by three-year starter  Brian Merritt (6-0, 300), is simply hard to block and sets up the rest of the team to make big plays. Milton has a pair of play-making defensive ends, Marcors Rangel (seven sacks) and Zander Barnett (eight sacks). 

Edge: Colquitt County

Linebackers: Rashard Revels (leading tackler, 13 sacks, committed to UAB), middle linebacker Kendrick Neloms (second in tackles, 14 sacks) and Marcus Anderson (fourth in tackles, committed to Georgia State) are the cornerstone of what’s been the best defense that coach Rush Propst has fielded at Colquitt County. Camari Louis has intercepted four passes and blocked a pretty important overtime extra-point attempt in the semifinals. Milton’s linebackers are pretty good, too. MLB Jordan Davis and OLB Jack Rhodes are the leading tacklers, and OLB Allen Walker (committed to Louisiana Tech) has a team-leading nine sacks. 

Edge: Colquitt County

Secondary: Milton safety Joe Charleston, a Clemson commit, and Nasier Currie-Sudler, a transfer from McEachern, have played at an all-state level for two seasons now. They are safeties. Senior cornerback Syaire Waters is also outstanding. This might be Milton’s best unit. Colquitt’s Jay Ward has emerged as one of the best corners in the state. He has six interceptions and three stars on his recruiting profile. The other corner, Nyquan Washington, is a potential Power Five recruit.

Edge: Milton

Special teams: Colquitt’s Ryan Fitzgerald has made 20 of 24 field-goal attempts with a long of 57. He’s put 90 of 103 kickoffs in the end zone. He also averages 41.1 yards per punt. Montavious Ponder has returned a kickoff for a touchdown. Milton is ordinary on special teams. The Eagles have made no field goals longer than 39 yards, put only eight kickoffs in the end zone and averages only 32.5 yards per punt. They’ve made no big returns this year.

Edge: Colquitt County

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