Rock­mart looks to even record against Ar­muchee on Fri­day

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL SPORTS - From staff re­ports

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.

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