It seems simple.
If Milton wins, the Panthers would force a three-team shootout for District 2-6A runner up. With a Pace win, the Patriots would lock up a runner up spot.
Both scenarios are assuming that undefeated Navarre comes out on top against Gulf Breeze.
To make things more intense, the match up continues one of the area’s oldest rivalries as Pace and Milton will compete for the coveted bronze helmet.
The game will likely be a run-heavy match up, with the Patriots — led by Anthony Johnson Jr.’s 199 rushing yards per game, accented by 19 rushing TDs – crashing into Milton’s four-back stable ( Shemar Henderson, Eric Hurst, Desmone Knight, Jordan Rich) that has combined for 1,234 yards this season.
“Defensively, everything starts with containing Anthony (Johnson Jr.),” Milton coach Chafan Marsh said. “We’ve gotta make sure we are prepared to be physical on defense. He’s a good running back, he’s gonna get some yards. We’ve just gotta make sure that he doesn’t have a monster night.
“At the same time, we gotta make sure Pace is worried about our running game. We’ve gotta be physical. The battle in the trenches will be key. It will be about which o-line and d-line wants it bad enough.
The Panthers will seek to bounce back from a lopsided loss to Pace last year, and reclaim the bronze helmet.
“The team’s attitude has been good this week,” Marsh said. “We’ve had to deal with weather like everyone else. But our kids are excited about this game. We’ve got an opportunity to still get into the playoffs. On top of that, the Pace rivalry is a big game. Pace did a good job of beating us pretty good last year.”
Both teams took a bye last week, but it was Pace who earned a win in Week 8 while Milton suffered a loss.
In the even of a three-team shootout, Milton would host Gulf Breeze and Pace and would be granted a first-round bye due to best overall record.
Johnson Jr. and the Patriots will seek to keep the bronze helmet another year, and have been able to block out the rivalry hype during preparation.
“I’ve been around Pace since I was little,” said Johnson Jr., who called last year’s Pace-Milton game his breakout game, where he took 19 carries for 215 yards and four TDs. “Milton-Pace week is always the talk of the town. When the week comes around, there is nothing like it. There are no rivalries like Pace vs. Milton.”
With both teams rested from last week’s byes, Johnson Jr. expects his teammates and his rivals to bring their “A” game.
“Milton is a good team,” Johnson Jr. said. “If they were playing against anyone else, they would play good. But against us, they step it up. We are that team for them … and they are that team for us. It’s probably gonna be the best game of the year for both teams. It’s fierce rivalry with tough competition … and we want to keep that bronze helmet.”
Want to Go?
District 2-6A Showdown
Who: Milton Panthers vs. Pace Patriots
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Records: Milton (5-3, 0-2); Pace (3-5, 1-1).
Skinny: Teams will play for the “Bronze Helmet.” In last year’s meeting, Pace bested Milton 47-7 as Anthony Johnson Jr. showed a break through game as he filled in for an injured Quaide Weimerskirch.