Parkview has seen some stout football teams and dynamic individual players over its first three games of the 2018 season.
And as one of only two Gwinnett County teams that remain undefeated, it has been up to the task each time.
But the No. 4 state-ranked Panthers (3-0) know the challenge they face when seventh-ranked Milton (3-1) comes to the Big Orange Jungle on Friday for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff will be different from anything they’ve seen thus far.
Despite coming off their first loss of the season last week against longtime archrival Roswell, the Eagles feature perhaps the most athletic individual player Parkview has seen yet this season in senior Jordan Yates.
The Georgia Tech-committed quarterback is certainly the most versatile player the Panthers have faced thus far, having accounted for 769 yards of total offense and seven combined touchdowns on the season, something coach Eric Godfree knows will keep his defense on its toes.
“He’s a true dual-threat guy,” Godfree said of Yates. “He can run, he can throw and he can escape the pocket and then throw. So he’s dangerous.”
But Godfree also knows Milton is far from a one-man show, and brings a lot more to the table than just Yates, especially on offense.
Jordan Davis and Joshua Edwards have combined to run for 512 yards and seven TDs, giving the Eagles a ground complement to its passing game.
And in that aerial assault, Yates has plenty of weapons to throw to, including seniors Jordan Cox (13-297, 3 TDs) and Holden Shaw (14-113, 2 TDs).
“They’ve got some big, tall receivers,” Godfree said. “And they’re very balanced. … I wish (Yates) was their only weapon. But they’ve got more. We’ve got to have 11 players on defense to be disciplined and be in the right places. And we’ve just got to make plays.”
Making plays at the right time hasn’t been that much of an issue for the Parkview defense so far this season.
Led by junior linebacker and two-time Daily Post Defensive Player of the Week Kobe Wilson (37 tackles, 3 sacks), the Panthers have come up big when they’ve needed to throughout the season.
That was particularly true last week, when they held Tift County scoreless and to just 48 yards of total offense in the second half to help the offense rally from an 11-point halftime deficit for a 31-28 road victory.
And given the versatility of Yates and the Milton offense, Godfree says the ability of the defense to stay focused mentally and make adjustments on the fly will be especially important Friday night.
“We’ve been talking all week about the mental toughness and mental discipline it takes in practice to be great,” Godfree said. “The kids are starting to figure that out, and it’s carried over into our games, too.
“Our defense has stepped up. Coach (John) Rolader, our defensive coordinator, has done a great job of preparing the kids and making adjustments. The first time (Tift County) got a first down in the second half (last week) was on that last drive of the game. They kept us in good field position all night.”
Of course, the Panthers have gotten production from their offensive stalwarts throughout the season, as well, especially three-star senior college prospect Malik Washington (548 yards total offense, 6 total TDs), sophomore running back Cody Brown (48-315, 5 TDs) and junior quarterback Jordan Williams (40-56-0, 584 yards, 5 TDs).
But Godfree knows that unit must cut down on the few errors they’ve made and play a more clean game to succeed against Milton on Friday.
“We got into some trouble (last Friday) when we stopped ourselves with penalties and turnovers,” Godfree said. “We’ve done a few things (early on) to not help ourselves. But (Williams) is coming along, and Malik Washington has done the things we’ve needed him to do.”
MILTON AT PARKVIEW
Milton Eagles (5-AAAAAAA)
Coach: Adam Clack
Last week: Lost to Roswell 22-20
Parkview Panthers (7-AAAAAAA)
Coach: Eric Godfree
Last week: Beat Tift Co. 31-28
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Parkview won 48-7 in 1995
Location: Parkview High School
1995 — Parkview 48, Milton 7
1994 — Parkview 41, Milton 11