James Wood, Millbrook looking to bounce from losses

Two football teams who suffered late losses last week will be looking to rebound when James Wood travels to Millbrook to close out the regular season on Friday.

The Colonels dropped a 35-29 overtime decision to Liberty last Friday and a day later the Pioneers fell 27-22 against Handley on a touchdown with less than three minutes to go.

The big difference for both teams is what is at stake tonight.

Millbrook (6-3) knows it will be playing again next week. The Pioneers are third in the Region 4D football rankings and looking to nail down a home playoff game in the regional quarterfinals.

James Wood (4-5) is fighting for its life. The Colonels, who dropped from seventh to 10th with last week’s loss, need to win and maybe a few other things go their way.

Both Millbrook’s Josh Haymore and James Wood’s Todd Wilson saw some things they liked, but some other things that bothered them from last week.

For the Colonels, Dominik Ramirez ran for two scores, threw for another, ran in a conversion and passed for another mostly out of their heavy set, which is really designed for short yardage situations. In the normal offense, Elijah Richards didn’t have a lot of room against a team that had given up more than 300 rushing yards the previous week against Handley.

“We’re still making a lot of the same mistakes we’ve been making all year,” Wilson said. “At times we look good. Dom ran the ball hard when he was in there with our heavy package, but that’s a package and it’s not our offense. When we had our regular offense in there, we were not getting the yardage running the ball. That was disappointing.”

Haymore said the film against Handley wasn’t pretty.

“I was highly disappointed with the way we played on Saturday, just looking back at the film,” he said. “Some of the things that they did to us, we should have played better.

“We’ve challenged them a bunch this week,” he added. “We put a product on film we weren’t proud of, but I think our kids understand it. This is not only a learning process for [the players], but it’s a new offense for me and the coaches, too. We learn new things every day and every week. As we move along we get better. I think we’ve done a good job of adjusting throughout the year.”

Both teams will be looking to do the same thing on Friday — run the football.

Richards (933 yards) and Ramirez (328 yards, 11 TDs) have been effective for the Colonels and Haymore says he is impressed by some of the big guys up front.

“They have got a good offensive line,” Haymore said. “No. 53 (Jordyn Sweetser), he’s a physical kid and he plays hard. I think they do some good things. They put their kids in successful positions.”

Millbrook’s single wing is led by Kyler Jackson, the area’s leading rusher with 1,297 yards and 19 touchdowns on 157 carries. Quarterback Jonah Mihill (748 yards and 10 TDs on 125 carries) and Tyson Mallory (425 yards and 6 TDs on 58 carries) are also dangerous.

“They’re big and physical,” Wilson said of the Pioneers. “They do what they do. They hang their hat on running the football. It’s lining up and just power football.”

Wilson said the Pioneers’ offense is tough to prepare for in just a week.

“Things like that are tough to practice against when you try to get the scout team to give the defense a good look,” he said. “You can’t really replicate stuff like that real well. They run a handful of plays and they’ve been practicing those plays all year and all summer long, so they’re really good at what they do. To try to get underclassmen to try to mimic what Millbrook does, it does provide a different challenge.”

The Colonels may be doing it without their best defender. Zach Smith injured his left ankle in the second quarter against Liberty and was on crutches after the game.

Before practice on Monday, Wilson said Smith was walking without the crutches. “We’ll see how he progresses throughout the week, but if he plays at all it will probably be in a limited role,” Wilson said.

The Pioneers’ defense is led by linebacker Cohen Creswell, who has 79 tackles.

Special teams could play a part for both teams. Jasmine Hackman placed the opening kickoff where the Colonels recovered it last week and they nearly recovered another. Garrett Johnson booted a 30-yard field goal that gave the Pioneers a 22-21 lead in the final quarter against Handley.

Wilson said the Colonels need to do a couple of things well to have a chance at taking down the Pioneers.

“We have to sustain drives on offense,” he said. “We have to capitalize when we have the ball. We can’t turn the ball over and give them extra possessions. That’s exactly what they want.

“… Defensively, we have to line up right and match their physicality. We have to get them off the field. If we can do that, I like our chances.”

Haymore wants to see his team show its full potential.

“I want to see them put what they are on film,” he said. “Last week was not us. I truly believe that. I think our kids are better than the product they put on film last week. We’ve challenged them and they’ve challenged themselves this week. … Whoever gets this next film and our last game, I want them to see what kind of football we can actually play.”

— Contact Walt Moody at

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Follow on X @WinStarSports1


smile ge logo light. CB441554320


$250 Annual Winner

 The winner of the 
$250 Annual Drawing was
Stephanie Ashby

Congratulations and thanks for supporting the JWAA!