ROSWELL, Ga. – The Roswell-Milton rivalry is one of the oldest and most spirited in the state, but during a 25-year stretch from 1983 to 2007, the rivalry was totally one-sided.
Roswell won 22 of 24 games against Milton during that span, including 14 in a row between 1983 and ’95. But after a 7-game losing streak to the Hornets from 2001 to ’07, Milton has won three of the last five, including each of the last two years.
The Eagles qualified for the playoffs each of the three recent seasons they defeated the Hornets, and are looking to continue that trend. Milton plays at Roswell Friday night in the Region 5-AAAAAA opener for both teams, with the Eagles coming into the game undefeated.
After a narrow 31-24 victory in their season opener against Alpharetta, the Eagles have defeated Johns Creek and Centennial the last two weeks by a combined score of 108-23.
Roswell is 2-1 with wins over Centennial and Johns Creek by more modest margins, with the Hornets looking to rebound after going 3-17 the last two seasons.
“Roswell is a rival, but we have so many rivals,” Milton coach Howie DeCristofaro says. “Alpharetta is a pretty big rival for us.
“The most important thing is that it’s a region game and we want to get off to a good start in the region.”
Despite heavy graduation losses, the Eagles have played well in all facets of the game thus far this season. As expected, tailback Treyvon Paulk has led the Milton offense, rushing for more than 450 yards and seven touchdowns in the Eagles’ three victories,
But Paulk has received plenty of help from quarterback Austin McLeod, running back Mikko Brisker, an inexperienced but improving offensive line and speedster Chad Toliver, who has been a major threat returning kicks and made a number of big plays as an outside rushing threat and receiver coming out of the backfield.
The Milton defense, led by linebacker Quarte Sapp, will be challenged by a Roswell offense that scored a combined 80 points in the Hornets’ two victories, but struggled after a fast start in a loss to Lambert.
Roswell will be the first team the Eagles have faced that sports a productive rushing attack, with the Hornets also capable of throwing the ball effectively, although that was not the case for most of the game against Lambert.
Thanks to Toliver, kicker Jordan Genovese and punter Matt Moskowitz, who was in Roswell’s football program before being re-districted into Milton’s attendance zone, the Eagles have “the best special teams we’ve had since I’ve been here,” DeCristofaro says.
“All three facets of our kicking game have a chance to be successful.”
Although the Milton coach believes his team has plenty of room to improve, he admits he “did not expect” the Eagles to get off to such a successful start.
“I did not think that we had the ability to score the way we have. I’m really happy with where we’re at.”