Walton vs. Milton LIVE High School Football ON TV Channel
Milton vs Walton: A High School Football Rivalry for the Ages: On Wednesday, December 13, 2023, the Milton Eagles and the Walton Raiders will face each other in the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) Class 7A state championship game at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. This is the second time in three years that these two teams will meet in the title game, with Milton winning the previous encounter in 2021 by a score of 52-17[^1^]. This is also the third time in four years that Milton will play for the state championship, having won it in 2018 and 2021, and losing it in 2020. Walton, on the other hand, will seek its first state title since 2011, and its second overall.
Milton Eagles: The Defending Champions
The Milton Eagles (12-2) are the defending Class 7A state champions, who have overcome a slow start to the season to reach the title game for the third time in four years. The Eagles lost their first two games of the season, against North Cobb and IMG Academy, but then went on a nine-game winning streak, including a 45-35 victory over Grayson in the semifinals. The Eagles are led by senior quarterback Luke Nickel, who has thrown for 3,958 yards and 42 touchdowns, with only six interceptions. Nickel's favorite targets are senior wide receivers AJ Benton and TJ Lester, who have combined for 2,258 yards and 28 touchdowns. The Eagles also have a balanced running game, with senior running back CJ Wiley leading the way with 867 yards and 14 touchdowns. The Eagles' defense is anchored by senior linebacker Caleb Bell, who has 86 tackles and seven sacks, and senior defensive back Alex Nover, who has six interceptions and two touchdowns.
Walton Raiders: The Undefeated Challengers: The Walton Raiders (14-0) are the only undefeated team in Class 7A, and have been dominant all season long, scoring 695 points and allowing only 217. The Raiders have beaten some of the top teams in the state, such as Grayson, North Cobb, and Camden County, and have won their games by an average margin of 32 points. The Raiders are led by junior quarterback Jeremy Hecklinski, who has thrown for 3,722 yards and 48 touchdowns, with only four interceptions. Hecklinski's main weapons are senior wide receiver Jaden Mangini, who has 1,342 yards and 18 touchdowns, and junior running back Makari Bodiford, who has 1,036 yards and 14 touchdowns. The Raiders' defense is led by senior linebacker Ashton Woods, who has 139 tackles and four sacks, and senior defensive end Lota Ugokwe, who has 14 sacks and two forced fumbles.
The Rivalry: A History of Close Games and Bad Blood: The Milton Eagles and the Walton Raiders have a history of close games and bad blood, dating back to 2009, when they first met in the playoffs. Since then, they have played each other 10 times, with Milton winning six and Walton winning four. The average score of their games is 28-26, with six of them decided by one score or less. The rivalry has also been marked by some controversial and dramatic moments, such as:
- In 2010, Walton won 21-14 in the regular season, but Milton avenged the loss with a 28-21 win in the quarterfinals, ending Walton's undefeated season. - In 2012, Walton won 31-28 in overtime in the regular season, but Milton won 24-21 in the semifinals, advancing to its first state championship game. - In 2014, Milton won 31-28 in the regular season, but Walton won 38-31 in the second round of the playoffs, ending Milton's undefeated season. - In 2018, Milton won 17-14 in the regular season, and then won 28-17 in the state championship game, claiming its first state title. - In 2021, Milton won 52-17 in the quarterfinals, handing Walton its only loss of the season.
The rivalry has also been fueled by some trash talk and animosity between the players and coaches, who have exchanged insults and threats on social media and in interviews. The two teams have also been involved in some scuffles and altercations on the field, resulting in penalties and ejections.
The Prediction: A Close and Competitive Game: The state championship game between Milton and Walton is expected to be a close and competitive one, as both teams are elite and have similar skill sets. The odds are slightly in favor of Walton, who is a -3.5 point favorite, according to the latest line. The game could come down to who can impose their game plan better, who can make the most of their opportunities, and who can avoid turnovers and mistakes. The game could also go down to the wire, as both teams have shown the ability to come back from deficits and win close games.