ALPHARETTA, GA. – One of the state’s more interesting season opening games will match two local North Fulton rivals.
Defending Region 6-AAAAA champion Alpharetta will be at home Friday night against Milton, which made the playoffs in 6-AAAAA last season but will be in a new region this season.
Both teams will play in the newly created AAAAAA classification this season, with Alpharetta remaining in Region 6 and Milton moving back to Region 5 with Roswell and schools from east Cobb and Cherokee County.
The two teams are both expected to contend in their respective regions, but both face difficult tasks.
Alpharetta is in a region with four teams that won at least eight games last year and reached the state playoffs. Milton will have to battle Walton and Lassiter, both of whom are ranked among the top teams in AAAAAA going into the season.
“It’s great to be opening the season with a rival,” Milton coach Howie DeCristofaro said. “I’d rather play somebody really good so we’ll know if we’re any good.”
Both teams are loaded with college prospects, with Milton already having five players commit to scholarships for Division I schools. Alpharetta has four, with several others weighing offers.
The Milton Eagles feature one of the most formidable offensive lines in the state with Wake Forest commits Josh Harris and Cory Helms and TCU-bound Eason Fromayan. They will block for Ole Miss commit Payton Barber and standout junior Treyvon Paulk, who rushed for over 1,000 yards last season while Barber was sidelined with an injury.
The Eagles will look to control the ball with their running game to keep Alpharetta’s explosive offense off the field. Milton lost several starters in the defensive secondary, and will be looking to Auburn commit Carl Lawson to provide a pass rush that will pressure Alpharetta quarterback Joshua Dobbs, who will play at Arizona State.
The Raiders will feature one of the state’s most dangerous passing games, with Dobbs featuring a deep and talented group of receivers led by Vanderbilt commit Carlos Burse. Blake Rowlinson has committed to Troy, and transfer Rodney Morris is being looked at by SEC and ACC schools.
Alpharetta also returns several other capable receivers, giving them the depth and talent to make life miserable for opposing defensive backfields.
Defensive end Naim Mustafaa, who has committed to Georgia, leads an Alpharetta defense that played well last season, but will have to replace a number of 2011 starters.
Kickoff time for Friday’s game is 7:30 p.m. The Raiders scored a 20-19 victory over the Eagles last season, with Milton missing a late PAT attempt after a stirring fourth quarter rally.