Area teams ad­vance, see sea­sons end in play­offs

The Standard Journal - - SPORTS - RE­GION ROUNDUP Staff re­ports

The pieces are com­ing to­gether for epic show­downs in the area this week. Rome re­mains dom­i­nant in Class 5A, Rock­mart is top­ping Class AA and much more as 2018’s sea­son winds down into the semi­fi­nal round this week. Other teams saw them­selves fall by the way­side and close out the year with hard luck.

Here’s a run­down of how last week worked out in the semi­fi­nal round of the 2018 state foot­ball play­offs:

Rome 28, Dutch­town 14

HAMP­TON – All of the pieces that had car­ried the Rome Wolves through 12 wins this sea­son got worked a lit­tle harder against the host Dutch­town Bull­dogs on Fri­day night.

But the ex­tra work reaped plenty re­wards.

Jamious Grif­fin ran for 230 yards, quar­ter­back Knox Kadum scored three touch­downs, and Rome’s de­fense nearly si­lenced a team that had de­feated ev­ery op­po­nent that came their way to cap­ture a 28-14 win the Class 5A state quar­ter­fi­nals.

“They were a tough team, and this was a hard-fought game,” Kadum said. “We re­ally came alive af­ter the first two drives in the game, made some ad­just­ments, and I love this group of guys. We get to play an­other week.”

Next up for No. 1 Rome will be a re­match of the 2017 Class 5A state cham­pi­onship game with the Wolves set to travel to Warner Robins next Fri­day to take on the De­mons in the state semi­fi­nals. Warner Robins, ranked No. 3 in the state, came from be­hind to de­feat Clarke-Cen­tral 21-14 on Fri­day night.

While it took some time for Rome (13-0) to get its of­fense rolling, the Wolves never trailed against No. 4 Dutch­town, lead­ing 15-0 at half­time and match­ing the Bull­dogs score for score for score in the sec­ond half.

Grif­fin car­ried the ball 39 times in the game, in­clud­ing one for a touch­down from a yard out in the sec­ond quar­ter, and found his big­gest suc­cess in the sec­ond half. The se­nior North Carolina State com­mit helped push Rome down the field on 68- and 63-yard scor­ing drives that set up a 4-yard touch­down runs by Kadum at the end of each.

“Jamious car­ried the load for us tonight, and once we got the run­ning game go­ing it was ef­fec­tive,” Rome head coach John Reid said. “As long as we got some­thing go­ing. And then they over-cor­rected and Knox was able to get in for some easy touch­downs. I was re­ally proud of the way we ad­justed.”

Dutch­town (12-1) re­lied on their pass­ing game to get them any pos­i­tive pro­duc­tion as quar­ter­back Aren­dez Fedd was 11 of 23 for 177 yards and two touch­downs. The Wolves’ de­fense showed it was pre­pared for the air at­tack.

Ea­gle’s Land­ing Chris­tian 42, Darlington 6

Through the good and the bad, the Darlington foot­ball team never gave up in a sea­son that could have been over nearly as soon as it had be­gun.

So when the mo­ment came Fri­day night when the clock read ze­roes for the fi­nal time, the Tigers’ play­ers and coaches found the pos­i­tives de­spite their road in the GHSA state play­offs com­ing to an end.

The No. 10 Tigers fell on the road to top-ranked Ea­gle’s Land­ing Chris­tian Academy 42-6 in the quar­ter­fi­nals of the Class A Pri­vate state play­offs.

The se­niors have led the Tigers to con­sec­u­tive quar­ter­fi­nal ap­pear­ances, and have been to the play­offs in all four sea­sons of its ca­reer.

“It’s been a great year,” Darlington head coach Tommy Atha said. “This se­nior class is not full of su­per­stars. It’s just full of a bunch of guys that love to play foot­ball and hard-nosed kids and they’ve got a lot to be proud of. This bunch has a lot of char­ac­ter. We talked at half­time that re­gard­less of the score, let’s go out on our terms. Let’s go out and play the way that we play. Let’s make sure we fin­ish this thing well, re­gard­less of the score. We’re down 42-0 and we still have a side­line over there full of en­thu­si­asm.”

Se­nior de­fen­sive stand­out Tommy Atha, the son of the head coach, looks back with fond­ness on his fi­nal sea­son with the Tigers.

“It’s been the most fun I’ve had,” the player said. “All the years I’ve been at Darlington have been a great time. We’ve got Tate Ra­tledge and some big guys, but for the most part, we don’t have any over-thetop guys. We’re just play­ing to­gether. We played as a team, and that’s more than I could’ve asked for as a se­nior this year.”

The Tigers hit a wall in their fi­nal game of the sea­son against the three-time state cham­pion Charg­ers. Keaton Mitchell, the lead­ing rusher for Ea­gle’s Land­ing (11-1) was mostly un­stop­pable putting up 168 yards and scor­ing four touch­downs. The Charg­ers rolled up 441 yards of of­fense, while hold­ing Darlington to 62 yards.

“That’s just tough to com­pete with,” head coach Tommy Atha said. “They’re big on both sides of the ball, and they’ve got ath­letes ev­ery­where. You’ve got to be per­fect. There’s no mar­gin for er­ror. We made some mis­takes in this foot­ball game, and you can’t do that against a team like that.”

The Tigers (9-3) tried to get a run game go­ing, but the Charg­ers’ de­fense stopped them in their tracks, hold­ing Darlington to 42 yards on the ground. Se­nior run­ning back Kolin Rogers, who has been a force for the Tigers all sea­son, couldn’t break through the Charges’ de­fen­sive line fin­ish­ing with 19 yards.

The Tigers put to­gether a strong drive that be­gan near the end of the first quar­ter. Al­ready down 29-0, quar­ter­back Frank Man­ning, who took over for start­ing quar­ter­back Grif­fin Brew­ster af­ter he was in­jured in the sec­ond week of the sea­son, tried to lead the Tigers down­field when he crossed into Charg­ers’ ter­ri­tory on a 12-yard run. Man­ning hit Karl Swiger on a 12-yard pass, and a penalty against the Charg­ers on the next play put the Tigers in the red zone. An 8-yard run from Demetrius Rogers put the Tigers on the 1-yard line, but Kolin Rogers came up short of the end zone.

Other teams of note

Cartersville will face Marist af­ter a third round win over Bald­win, look­ing to keep alive the glory of the Pur­ple Hur­ri­canes in the 2018 sea­son.

They fin­ished first in the re­gion and have stormed through Stephens County, Ridge­land and now Bald­win in a 42-13 to ad­vance against Marist. Cedar­town, who made it into the play­offs this year, were knocked out in the first round by St. Pius, who lost to Marist two weeks ago in a 24-8 sec­ond round win. Marist ad­vances af­ter a win over Mary Per­sons, 10-7 on Nov. 23.

Area pow­er­house Cal­houn also con­tin­ues in their jour­ney in the state play­offs un­de­feated af­ter a 24-14 win over Jenk­ins in the third round. They’ll be play­ing against Peach County af­ter they won 21-3 over West­min­ster to ad­vance.

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