Landmark season produced only championship for Jackets in 1950
♦ Rockmart is looking to end a nearly sevendecade state title drought next week in Atlanta
In 1950 a gallon of gas cost 18 cents, milk was still delivered door-to-door, President Harry S. Truman was leading the United States of America in the Cold War and troops were fighting in Korea, and the Rockmart High School football team won its one — and so far only — state championship.
The world has changed greatly since then, but the 2018 Yellow Jackets are looking for a little touch of history repeating when they face Heard County next week for another shot at a state title.
The Yellow Jackets and the Braves will meet on the field at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Wednesday at 1 p.m. with the Class AA title on the line.
That 18 cents-per-gallon of gas would’ve came in handy for the 1950 Jackets as they made the 275-mile trip down to Valdosta, where they came away with a 52-21 win against the Wildcats for the Class A state championship.
Rockmart handed legendary Valdosta coach Wright Bazemore one of only two losses in 16 state championship games, and put up the most points by a winning opponent on Valdosta’s Cleveland Field, a mark that still stands.
The team, coached by JD Langley, finished with a perfect 12-0 record, which culminated with the Jackets playing in the Peanut Bowl, a game in Columbus on New Year’s Day that pitted the top high school team in Georgia against a top team from the Northeast.
Playing the team from Holyoke, Massachusetts, Rockmart won the game 19-14 and finished the season outscoring its opponents 430-85 for an average of 35.8 points per game, while allowing only 7.1 points per game.
Playing on the field behind the old Rockmart High School on Piedmont Avenue, the Jackets had finished the regular season with the traditional Thanksgiving Day game against Polk County rival Cedartown. Rockmart won 52-12, which would be its only win against the Bulldogs in a span of seven years, according to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association.
The 1950 Jackets featured six players who earned all-state honors, led by team captain Max Mason, who was named the Class A Player of the Year and the Touchdown Club of Atlanta Back of the Year.
Mason was also a Wigwam Wiseman All-American, and continued his college career at Kentucky under Wildcats head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. Also earning all-state honors for Rockmart that season were ends Marvin Hardy and Sammy Parker, guard Billy Powell, and tackles Lowell Vanell and Paul Head.
Rockmart had other chances at state titles, advancing to the championship game in 1954 and 1957, but came up short each time.
The Jackets’ last championship game saw Valdosta exact its revenge for 1950 seven years later with a 13-6 win on the Wildcats’ home field in a matchup of the top two ranked teams in Class AA.
Rome News-Tribune Sports Editor Jeremy Stewart contributed to this report.