Rockmart looks to even record against Armuchee on Friday
A week off gave the Rockmart Yellow Jackets a much needed stretch of time to regroup as they get ready for this Friday night and a return to the gridiron to start the Region 7-AA schedule.
The 1-2 Jackets, who are coming off a 31-30 overtime loss to the Woodland Wildcats in Bartow County, seek to get back to even and build up a winning season as this week’s matchup with Armuchee kicks off on Friday night on the road.
Rockmart is evenly matched this week with the 1- 2 Indians, who themselves are coming off a 42-21 road loss on the road to the Temple this past Friday night.
Head coach Biff Parson said that his team had work to do last week following the loss to Woodland with the week off in hopes they might “figure out who we are as a team and get through the region and win a championship.”
“That’s what really matters in the big scheme of what we’re trying to accomplish,” he said.
That region championship won’t be so easy to get. Following Armuchee, Rockmart faces Dade County for their Sept. 22 homecoming next week after starting the first four games of the season on the road. Rockmart then has a trio of traditionally tough opponents to face once they are done with the Wolverines.
The Jackets cap off the month of September by heading to Summerville to face Chattooga on Sept. 29, then they get another week off before hosting Pepperell on Oct. 13 and t hen Coosa on Oct. 20. Rockmart wraps up the season with a trip to Gordon Central on Oct. 27, and then hosts Model for senior night and the final regular season game of the year on Nov. 3.
Several offensive threats have thus far done well on the field, but hasn’t always gotten them over the hump. Quarterback Dylan Bailey has provided positive leadership on the field and both thrown and ran for touchdowns, while Z. J. Whatley has racked up more than 200 yards rushing through the young season so far.
“Whatley’s been very consistent with us week to week,” Parson said previously.
That’s an area the Jackets have celebrated, but Parson said the team still has plenty of work to do on making blocks on the offensive line, and for the defense making tackles in crucial situations.
The team’s hopes are that with the past week off, an opponent with the same record and plenty of time to prepare they’ll come out on top over Armuchee.
In John Reid’s three years as head coach, Rome has established itself with a physical defense above all else. But on Friday night, it was the offense’s turn to put on a show.
The Wolves rode behind Knox Kadum’s arm, a punishing ground game and Xavier Roberts-Donaldson’s versatility to accumulate 555 total yards and beat Kell 54-33 in a Region 7-5A matchup at Barron Stadium.
It is the sixth time in the last two years Rome has scored at least 50 points, and t he win avenged the Wolves’ 33-30 loss to Kell in 2016.
“Well, I guess you can’t choose how you win. You just have to win,” Reid said. “I think their guys were more physical than us t o start, and t hat doesn’t happen often. And our offense kept us in the game until we made some adjustments at halftime.”
Kadum accumulated 253 total yards and threw two touchdowns, while running backs Jamious Griffin and Jalynn Sykes both ran for more than 100 yards. Roberts-Donaldson had 119 t otal yards, and recorded passing, rushing and receiving touchdowns on the night.
While reaching t he half- century mark i s nothing new f or t he Wolves (3-0, 1-0 7-5A), it was never so necessary.
Kell led Rome 33- 32 with 9:50 left in the third quarter before Rome’s defense came alive while the offense scored the final 22 points of the game.
The Longhorns’ lead in the second half didn’t last long, with Kadum hitting Roberts-Donaldson for a 42-yard touchdown pass with 8: 54 in the third.
Late in the quarter, Roberts- Donaldson hit Marquez Kirby for a 17yard touchdown pass on a trick play, giving Rome a 47-33 lead.
It was a career night for Roberts-Donaldson, who credited his coaches for allowing him to show off his many talents.
“We work those plays way more in practice than what we might do during the games,” Roberts- Donaldson said. “There are plenty of plays we run that we usually don’t use during the game, but we used them tonight.”
The biggest difference in the second half came on defense, as Rome finally began to slow down Kell quarterback Evan Conley and running back Josiah Futral.
Conley threw for 261 passing yards and three touchdowns while Futral had 171 total yards and one score.
But after Futral broke a 79-yard touchdown run to begin the second half, Kell (0-3, 0-1) only accumulated three first downs the rest of the game. Rome’s defensive line began to take over down the stretch, with Adam Anderson recording two sacks.
“Their game plan was to get the ball on the perimeter and away from our front seven,” Reid said.
“So we regrouped in the second half and went back to some fundamental things on defense, and it certainly helped.”
The Wolves looked flat to start, as the Longhorns scored on their first two possessions and went up 10- 0 after one quarter. And while Rome’s offense came alive in the second, Conley countered with two touchdown passes to keep the game tied at 25 entering halftime.
But similar to the opening- week win against Harrison, the Wolves simply wore down their opponent in the final quarter and a half.
While the Kell offense struggled, Rome looked its best down the stretch riding behind Sykes and Griffin.
“On Mondays we have to run a 400-yard shuttle, and that really helps test our endurance for games like this,” Griffin said. “In the fourth quarter, none of us were tired but we knew their defense was tired. So we just kept bringing it to them.”
Rome gets a week off before heading to Dallas for its first road game as t he Wolves t ake on Paulding County on Sept. 22.