Area teams advance, see seasons end in playoffs
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.