Likely one of the biggest games of the season is coming up for the Rockmart Yellow Jackets this Friday night following a much-needed bye week, and they return home to face a longtime foe in region play.
Region 7-AA's championship is likely to be determined at the end of this week as Pepperell comes into the Rock, and just like the Jackets are looking to remain undefeated against area opponents.
Both teams sit at 3-0 in 7-AA play over the past weeks and are tied for first in the standings, but the Dragons have one major difference: they've got a loss on their record from earlier in the year. They opened the season dropping their first game to Darlington in a 17-7 road trip, whereas Rockmart has gone through the season dominating every opponent they've faced.
Combining for 289 points on the scoreboard through six opponents, Rockmart's defense in comparison have only given up 46 points on the year so far as the undefeated Jackets come into the game with opportunity aplenty to stay near the top of the state rankings past the midway point of the season.
Georgia Public Broadcasting had Rockmart in fourth heading into this week, behind a top-ranked Dublin, a second place Callaway and a one-loss Hapeville Charter in third.
Rockmart will continue to rely on solid play from a group of backs sharing duties behind junior quarterback Javin Whatley, who continues to remain an explosive threat on the ground and in the air for the Jackets.
Where the Jackets will really have to continue to step up is on defense, an area where they continue their dominance with only giving up two touchdowns in each game through their opening three on the year, and then putting up two shutouts before Chattooga finally got a touchdown against the Jackets defense on Oct. 4.
The Dragons are coming off the 7-AA bye week with a 28-0 win over Model. Pepperell sophomore quarterback Shannen White put up big second half plays to help extend the shutout over the Blue Devils defense during an Oct. 4 showdown. The Dragons are relying some on younger talent to help push the team forward this year, like freshman running back D.J. Rogers.
Historically, the Jackets still hold the advantage over the Dragons. Out of 39 meetings between the two teams, Rockmart is 20-18-1 over Pepperell. The Jackets last lost on the road to the Dragons in 2016, but have over the past two seasons won out.
Last year, Rockmart took a 30-point victory over Pepperell on the road on their way to winning a second Region 7-AA title in a row and eventually went onward to state.
With both teams tied at the top of 7-AA, Rockmart is poised to take the driver's seat in the region if they come out with a win over Pepperell this week. They'll have to if they want to stay at the top of the mountain.
There are no breaks left following this past week for the Jackets as the regular season winds down. After Pepperell this week, the Jackets have Coosa, Gordon Central and Model to round out the year during the final Friday of October, and then through the first two weeks of November.
In Region 7-AA standings, Jackets and Dragons atop the heap with a third place Model tied with Chattooga after both sit at 2-1, Gordon Central and Coosa teams both at 1-2, and winless Dade County and Armuchee both sitting at 0-3.