Rock­mart ready for big start

♦ Chances are high for the Jack­ets in 2018 with se­nior lead­er­ship.

The Standard Journal - - PIGSKIN PREVIEW 2018 - ROCK­MART HIGH SCHOOL From staff re­ports

When the Rock­mart Yel­low Jack­ets suit up this Fri­day night, they’ll al­ready have two games worth of ex­pe­ri­ence un­der their belt for the 2018 sea­son.

Sure, they didn’t count at all. But af­ter the ex­pe­ri­ence on the field down in Bre­men and af­ter press time for this edi­tion at Tem­ple last Fri­day, the Jack­ets are buzzing to get back onto the field.

Es­pe­cially since this year, they’ve got a score to set­tle. Rock­mart hasn’t won against Cedar­town since their 2010 meet­ing, when the Jack­ets pulled off a 14-0 vic­tory over the Bull­dogs in the first year of for­mer head coach Scott Hendrix’s ca­reer with the Bull­dogs.

In the last 10 meet­ings from 2008 to 2017, the Bull­dogs have won 9 out of 10 times.

This year it’s go­ing to be harder. Rock­mart is on the rise.

Since Biff Par­son took over the pro­gram in 2016, the Yel­low Jack­ets have been hav­ing turn­around sea­sons. The 9-3 Jack­ets in 2017 went two rounds in the Class AA play­offs, los­ing in a five-point game to Call­away af­ter a first round 47-7 win over Mon­ti­cello.

They went un­de­feated in 7-AA play last year as well to be the re­gion cham­pi­ons for 2017.

Par­son’s open­ing year as head coach also ended with a 9-3 year, with only a sin­gle loss in Re­gion 7-AA to Pep­perell and a sec­ond round play­off ap­pear­ance hav­ing gone up against Fitzger­ald and fallen on the road.

This year is dif­fer­ent for the Yel­low Jack­ets. They’ve got sea­soned play­ers ready to fly against their op­po­si­tion on of­fense and de­fense, guys like se­nior Z.J. What­ley at run­ning back, and Dy­lan Bai­ley ready to lead the Jack­ets down­field at quar­ter­back.

What­ley was on the first team for the Rome News-Tri­bune’s All-Area Foot­ball of­fen­sive squad this year, along with Bai­ley getting an honor­able men­tion and one player the Jack­ets will just have to live with­out for 2018, Markus Smith.

Smith is out for his fi­nal sea­son with an in­jury, ac­cord­ing to Par­son.

A whole slew of of­fen­sive and de­fen­sive po­si­tions are se­niors this year, with 15 mem­bers of the team as part of the Class of 2019.

There’s a lot of fresh­man and sopho­mores on this year’s team as well, in po­si­tions to have a chance to gain ex­pe­ri­ence in what prom­ises to be a hard sched­ule in the 10 weeks to come.

Par­son said af­ter the first scrim­mage against the Blue Devils that his team still had work to do. They got a sec­ond chance to solve some of those prob­lems dur­ing their Aug. 10 scrim­mage against the Tem­ple Tigers on the road.

Par­son said the Jack­ets need to work on their ex­e­cu­tion on of­fense be­fore they have to face Cedar­town, the real chal­lenge of the sea­son be­fore re­gion play gets un­der­way.

They also face other tough com­pe­ti­tion be­fore mid-Septem­ber’s 7-AA start. Rock­mart has Cen­tral Car­roll — another 5-AAAA op­po­nent — and Heard County be­fore they get into Re­gion 7-AA play for the year, where they will spend much of the time fac­ing op­po­nents in 2018 with their op­po­nents hav­ing home field ad­van­tage.

The Jack­ets have half of their sea­son on the road against big op­po­nents, forced to hit he road to Trenton face Dade County in mid-Septem­ber, and drive to Lin­dale to face Pep­perell, plus trips to the Coosa Ea­gles and Model Blue Devils.

Rock­mart does host the first game of the re­gion sched­ule at home against Ar­muchee, who is un­der a new head coach as well. They also host Chat­tooga and Gor­don Cen­tral.

The Jack­ets have a lot of pos­i­tives on their side this year. Sea­soned play­ers who want a chance to suc­ceed at higher lev­els. Se­niors who want to make their mark on a sto­ried pro­gram.

Most im­por­tantly of all, they have the chance to learn a lot about them­selves, and break a hard streak.

Rock­mart play­ers line up for a sim­u­lated block­ing drill dur­ing prac­tice ear­lier in the month. They’ve had time to go through two scrim­mages since.Coach Tim Puck­ett works with de­fen­sive backs dur­ing an early Au­gust prac­tice to get them ready to tackle the com­pe­ti­tion for 2018.

Rock­mart line­men learn their blocks with­out pads.

Head coach Biff Par­son works with his of­fense to get them ready for the start of the 2018 sea­son dur­ing an early month prac­tice.

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