M.D. Roberts linebacker Malik Astin will try to help the Rams slow down a potent Eddie White Academy offense in Tuesday’s middle school championship. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
JONESBORO — It became apparent midway through the season that Eddie White Academy and M.D. Roberts were the best middle school teams in the county.
The only problem: the two would not meet on the field during the regular season.
If they were going to play, it would have likely been in the Clayton County Middle School Championship playoffs.
On Tuesday, that will be the case when the two meet at 6 p.m. in the championship game at Twelve Oaks Stadium.
“This is it,” Roberts coach Rosby Johnson said moments after his team defeated Babb in the semifinals earlier in the week.
“Playing in the championship game is what we have been working on all season,” Roberts running back Deighton London said. “It feels great to play for the championship.”
Both teams enter the game at 8-0 on the season while White is the top seed and the Rams are No. 2 seed. Because they didn’t meet in the regular season, they had a coin flip after the season to determine the seeding.
This will be Roberts’ second championship game appearance since 2011 when the Rams lost to North Clayton. Roberts won the 2005 title when Johnson was an assistant on the team.
White played for the title in 2010, the first year it was in existence.
“It is a job to get back to the title game,” White coach Mareno Philyaw said. “We are definitely looking forward to it.”
Both coaches agreed that their teams have started to peak at the right time.
White came into the playoffs two weeks ago after a bye week. The Wolves defeated Jonesboro in the first round of the playoffs before a semifinals win over Morrow.
Philyaw said he has been pleased at the way his team has played in the last two games.
“We wanted them to turn it up a notch when it came to the playoffs,” he said. “We have been playing real aggressive in the last two games. The kids are real focused on what we are doing.”
Johnson said his team came together after a win over Kendrick earlier in the season. He said the team held a closed door meeting to get refocused on the team.
“That Kendrick game woke us up,” Johnson said. “We starting setting those goals in July, but it took us a while to really get it going.”
“We had a whole different mindset after the Kendrick game,” he said.
The players say they are looking forward to competing in the championship game.
“It is a good feeling because you have worked so hard to get there,” Roberts linebacker Malik Astin said. “We know it will be a tough game against a good opponent.”