Rock­mart wins back-to-back

♦ Jack­ets fin­ish strong over Gor­don Cen­tral to clinch 7-AA ti­tle head­ing into Model

The Standard Journal - - SPORTS - By Kevin Myrick kmyrick@polk­stan­dard­jour­

Rock­mart made their state­ment to the rest of Class AA foot­ball on Fri­day night. Even when they’re shocked, they bounce back on top af­ter a 62-11 win over Gor­don Cen­tral that started on shaky ground.

The Jack­ets who sat at num­ber 2 in Class AA foot­ball statewide at press time se­cured the 7-AA re­gion cham­pi­onship for a sec­ond year and con­tin­ued per­fect for the sea­son.

It’s the first time in more than six decades the team has won a back-to-back re­gion ti­tle.

“What an ac­com­plish­ment we’ve made in this pro­gram,” Jack­ets head coach Biff Par­son said. “Goal num­ber one go­ing into the sea­son was a back-to-back re­gion cham­pi­onship. We’ve checked off that first box.”

They did it de­spite only hold­ing a 14-11 lead at the end of the first quar­ter, with the War­riors mak­ing their mark in the first quar­ter, grab­bing a 26-yard field goal and Isaac Dye picked up a Zabrion What­ley fum­ble in Rock­mart ter­ri­tory for 32 yard touch­down, with a fol­low-on 2-point con­ver­sion.

It only served to slow down what was oth­er­wise a still­hot Rock­mart of­fense, who scored five times in the first half, two of those off Dylan Bai­ley passes to Chan­dler Cooper on a 47-yard in the first quar­ter, and a 24 yard grab in the sec­ond. They also scored off big runs by the trio of What­ley, Ant Lester and Markus Smith through­out the first half, and sev­eral more in the sec­ond half by What­ley, Smith and even Jai Pen­son.

Rock­mart’s fi­nal score on the night came off of a Gor­don Cen­tral kick­off re­turn fum­ble lost by Ethan Wat­son and scooped up for a 23-yard score by Pey­ton Mor­ris.

Par­son said the team might have laid an egg in the first half, but showed re­silience to pick back them­selves right back up and get back onto track.

“That’s a credit to the teenagers,” he said. “The hard­est part for us right now is that Mon­day through Fri­day. Are we go­ing to re­main fo­cused, are we go­ing to pay at­ten­tion to de­tail? Are we go­ing to prac­tice?”

He said this past week wasn’t the great­est week of prac­tice, but that his high hopes are that the team will re­main per­fect as they head into the fi­nal week of the reg­u­lar sea­son.

Coaches and fans have ev­ery rea­son to be­lieve they will based on sta­tis­tics alone.

Rock­mart ended the night with more than 600 yards of of­fense, with Bai­ley go­ing 7 of 10 on pass­ing for 117 yards and 2 touch­down passes on the night.

It was the lat­est game where Rock­mart score more than 50 against an op­po­nent, the third time this sea­son, and made their cur­rent tally of points scored on the sea­son at 352 to 55 on the year.

Gor­don Cen­tral put up 246 yards on of­fense with Clay­ton Hogue and Nel­son Gravitt shar­ing du­ties un­der cen­ter. Hogue went 1 for 3 on the night for 30 yards, and Gravitt went 0 for 2 and no yards as well.

The Jack­ets fin­ish go­ing 9-0 (5-0 7-AA) into their fi­nal re­gion game next Fri­day on the road against Model (2-7, 2-4 7-AA,) who lost to Coosa last Thurs­day af­ter the game was moved up 30-14.

“This 2018 group has a chance to write their own legacy,” Par­son said. “They have a chance to go un­de­feated, but we take it one game at a time…. We want to be un­de­feated. I hope that we come out to prac­tice with a pur­pose and come out with the de­sire and pas­sion to ac­com­plish that goal as well.”

All other teams fall be­hind Rock­mart at this point no mat­ter the out­come. Chat­tooga stood at 5-1 in re­gion play af­ter 41-0 win over Dade County last week, fol­lowed by Pep­perell at 5-1 af­ter they shutout Ar­muchee 28-0. Coosa, at 3-3, has to face Gor­don Cen­tral af­ter their loss to Rock­mart on the road next Fri­day to keep their fourth place spot in Re­gion 7-AA and get into the play­offs this year.

If the War­riors win, it’ll be their first time in the play­offs since 2012.

Rock­mart’s as­sured spot al­ready has them fac­ing the fourth place team in Re­gion 6-AA at home. It’s a bat­tle for sec­ond place in that area of the state be­tween Dou­glass and Wash­ing­ton while Hapeville Char­ter re­mains per­fect at 6-AA’s top spot. Busi­ness Engi­neer­ing Science Tech and South At­lanta could end up bat­tling it out for the fourth seed and a trip to the Rock.

/ Kevin Myrick

It wasn’t all fun and games for the Yel­low Jack­ets de­fense last Fri­day night for their fi­nal home win of the sea­son. They still had a hard time stop­ping the Gor­don Cen­tral run in wet con­di­tions.

/ Kevin Myrick

Above left: Younger play­ers got a chance to get into the game in the sec­ond half on se­nior night with Javin What­ley tak­ing up du­ties un­der cen­ter in the fourth quar­ter. Above right: Ant Lester showed off his skills at run­ning back and on de­fense last Fri­day against Gor­don Cen­tral. Above: Se­nior Markus Smith takes a hand­off in the back­field from se­nior Dylan Bai­ley last Fri­day for the fi­nal Rock­mart reg­u­lar sea­son home game of 2018.

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