Cartersville triumphs over Marist
The Class 4A final will at least feature one team from Region 5-4A, though everyone wishes it were someone closer to home.
However, Cartersville came out on top in their semifinal matchup to remain undefeated at 14-0 heading into a match-up at MercedesBenz Stadium in Atlanta next week.
The Purple Hurricanes narrowly squeaked out a 17-14 win over Marist. It’ll be the latest trip for Head Coach Joey King to the state title game.
Cartersville overcame four turnovers by first year quarterback Tee Webb in a comeback after Marist at one point held a 14-10 lead. Webb’s redemption came on a third and 12 that resulted in a touchdown pass to Sophomore Devonte Ross for the win.
They’ll face Blessed Trinity in a rematch of the 2017 title game. It’ll be their opportunity at a third state title in four years. They’ll play after Rockmart’s game at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 12
Revenge-minded Warner Robins brings end to Rome’s season
WARNER ROBINS – This was a feeling Rome fans had not felt in a long time.
Despite the resolve of the Rome High football team to rally back from a 28-14 deficit in the third quarter, the Wolves were unable to make a final push on the road against Warner Robins and lost to the Demons 45-28 last Friday in the Class 5A state semifinals.
The defeat cuts short Rome’s quest of playing for a third straight state championship and ends its string of 40 consecutive victories, a mark that served as the longest current streak of any team in the state prior to last Friday’s game.
The last time the Wolves had lost was Sept. 9, 2016, when Region 7-5A foe Kell edged out Rome 33-30 in Cobb County. That season saw Rome win its first of three region championships under head coach John Reid, which led to the first state football championship in Rome High history.
Reid was reflective after the loss Friday night at McConnell-Talbert Stadium – the place where Rome won it’s second state title just less than a year before. He spoke about the seniors, who finish with a record of 49-7 over their four seasons.
“You can’t say enough about them,” Reid said. “We enjoy spending time with them and I feel bad for them. The way we go about things is we never think that there is going to be an end. So tonight, there is an end, but there is no loser on this field. These kids went at it. They fought until the end.”
Down 28-14 after a Warner Robins touchdown drive to open the third quarter, Rome (13-1) regained its composure when a Demon punt went just 16 yards after a Rome bounce to put the Wolves on the Warner Robins 29-yard line with 6:08 on the clock.
Quarterback Knox Kadum and receiver Xavier Roberts-Donaldson coordinated a combo on the very next play from scrimmage, with Kadum’s screen pass to his fellow senior sent back to the QB as he ran down the far sideline.
Kadum’s catch on the run led to a touchdown, and kicker Alonzo Rodriguez made his third of four extra points to put Rome within a score.
Two plays into the ensuing Demon drive, Warner Robins quarterback Dylan Fromm was picked off by DeKerion Jones and returned to the 16. Rome senior running back Jamious Griffin ran the ball four straight times and got into the end zone on a 4-yard scamper with 3:57 to go in the quarter to tie the game at 28-28.
It would be as close as the Wolves would get to the lead in the second half, however, as their final three drives would end without a score while Warner Robins (12-2) would lean on Fromm to get them 17 unanswered points before the final buzzer.
“Coming into this season, we didn’t know if we could win the region or make the playoffs. And they went all the way to the semifinals on someone else’s field,” Reid said. “I think early on some of their drives just got extended by some untimely penalties and we couldn’t overcome that. I thought we had a good run in the third quarter and it was a back-and-forth game. They got the best of us in the end. They had a good game plan.
Three of Warner Robins’ first four touchdown drives included costly Rome penalties on third-andlong that kept the Demons’ offense on the field. The host’s defense kept Griffin hemmed up most of the night, with his longest run being a 27-yard carry in the third quarter.
Kadum, who is a fouryear starter, was in on the Wolves’ first two touchdowns. He completed a flea-flicker play with a 41-yard touchdown pass to Roberts-Donaldson to cap an 88-yard drive in the first quarter that led to a 7-0 Rome lead, and then pushed his way behind his offensive line from less than a yard out in the second quarter to tie the game up 14-14.
Fromm finished the game with 373 yards passing for four touchdowns, two of which went to receiver Marcayll Jones.
Jackets fall in Final Four to Peach County
In what turned out to be just as much of a brutal, physical slugfest of a game as initially advertised between a pair of Class AAA’s most dynamic and complete rosters, the Peach County Trojans proved more opportunistic, defeating Calhoun 22-7 last Friday at The Reeve and closing the door on the Jackets’ state playoff run.
As with many games between equal opponents, it was apparent from the opening whistle that the team that made the least amount of mistakes, while also capitalizing on the opposition’s miscues, would emerge victorious, and that’s is exactly what propelled Peach County (12-2) to an early lead.
On a fourth-and-long on Calhoun’s (13-1) third possession, Peach County’s Jamir Best busted through the offensive line and got his hands on a Aaron Hayes punt attempt for a punt block, while also pouncing the loose ball himself, to give the Trojans optimal field position on the Jackets’ six-yard line.
Peach County quarterback Jaydon Gibson soon cashed in, powering in a quarterback keeper for a six-yard, tone-setting touchdown.
“We made too many mistakes to win the ballgame,” Calhoun head coach Hal Lamb said. “We had our opportunities to score early, but you can’t make mistakes like we did tonight, like those two blunders in the punt team, and you can’t do that against good teams. Our kids played hard, but we just couldn’t execute like we needed to.”
Calhoun maintained its composure after that deficit, however, and quickly produced an answer. Sparked by a 46-yard screen pass from quarterback Gavin Gray to Bralin Barton, in which Barton snagged the pass then sliced through multiple defenders, the Jackets capped off a its only scoring drive with a one-yard quarterback sneak muscled in by Gray in the early second quarter.
It looked as if the Jackets were poised to flip the field on an interception by Brannon Spector on the next possession. However, Calhoun uncharacteristically failed to transform the turnover into points, with the offense going three-and-out in what had the appearance of an opportunity for a turning point in the game.
Special teams execution then harmed the Jackets again, as Hayes struggled to hold onto the snap due to the wet conditions and dropped the ball. This time, it was Noah Whittington who scooped up the fumble on the Calhoun 46.
In a night where both signal-callers struggled to connect deep for most of the night, Gibson produced perhaps the best throw of the game on a 31-yard pass to Justin Harris for six, with the Trojans failing to convert the extra point. Peach County entered the halftime locker room with a 13-6 edge on the scoreboard.
It seemed as Peach County ratcheted up its pressure on both the defensive line and secondary in the second half, winning the battle of the trenches in a third quarter that was largely defined by sacks, punts and negative plays. The Trojans managed to extend its lead to 16-7 on a 31-yard field goal by Rene Galan.
The Jackets showed a lot of resilience in the final period, halting the Trojans on a fourth-andgoal in order to create a couple more opportunities to try and rally. Although moments later, Harris added what proved to be the dagger in favor of Peach County, returning an interception 46 yards for a touchdown to lock in the win.
It was tough sledding from both a passing and rushing standpoint for Calhoun, with Gray making the most of the small windows he had to throw. He finished 19-40 passing for 244 yards along with his rushing score. Bralin Barton was the leading receiver with six catches for 72 yards. With the gapdiscipline and physicality of the Trojan defense, and an early exit due to an apparent injury for Zack Fuller, Calhoun was led in rushing by Spector, who had 16 yards on one long carry.
The loss puts a end on another decorated, exhilarating and successful chapter of Calhoun football. It’s the last time that one of the program’s most accomplished senior classes will strap on the helmet.
“[This senior class] is a special bunch,” Lamb said. “They are a tightknit group that felt like it had a chance to win a state championship.”
“But this time of year everyone is good, if you don’t come and play well you’ll get beat. But these seniors are unbelievable, and they have done everything I have asked them to do. A lot of them will go on to play at the next level. We we want them to go on to be good fathers and good husbands, and there are a lot more important things in life than this game.”
Information for this report was compiled with reports from the Rome News-Tribune Sports Editor Jeremy Stewart, Calhoun Times Sports Editor Tyler Serritt, and from the Cartersville Daily Tribune News.