It was all-Jackets from the get-go.
The 2019 installment of the Floyd County Athletic Association Middle School Football Championship Game was expected to be a great clash of two Polk County powers.
Instead, it gave opportunity for Rockmart to obliterate rival Cedartown to the tune of a 51-12 victory.
Cedartown, coached by Chris Wigley, won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. This meant that the pretty sizeable crowd at Historic Hilburn Field in Rockmart would get to see the electrifying RMS offense first.
Coach Brandon Haywood’s bunch drove 70 yards in seven plays thanks to success with jet sweeps, quarterback draws, and a few big runs from Brent Washington. Quarterback JD Davis finished off the three-minute drive with a five-yard burst right side to give Rockmart Middle a 6-0 lead.
In middle school, extra-point kicks are worth two points, and a two-point conversion is instead a one-point conversion. Following their first score, RMS kicker Jose Alegria drilled the two-point kick to make it an 8-0 ballgame.
Cedartown’s first drive went absolutely nowhere. Stingy run-defense by the Jackets forced the Bulldogs to go three-and-out. After multiple holding penalties, Rockmart was forced deep in their own territory facing second-and-a-mile.
The down and distance did not matter. Haywood called a quarterback keeper, and JD Davis was able to streak down the far-sideline thanks to great blocking downfield. His 85-yard scamper, along with the Alegria kick, gave the Rock a 16-0 lead late in the first quarter.
On the Bulldogs’ next offensive play, a fumble on the snap gave the ball right back over to the Jackets. On a short field, Brent Washington found pay-dirt from three yards out. Their one-point conversion was successful, giving RMS a 23-0 lead early in the second.
After another Cedartown turnover, JJ Stocks rushed into the end zone to give Rockmart a 29-0 lead. Midway through the second quarter, this one was all but decided.
Though they were down big, CMS was still trying hard on offense. Faced with a third-and-five, quarterback Isaiah Johnson threw a perfect spiral just over the Rockmart safety’s head. His pass found the hands of receiver DJ Whatley, who sprinted 55-yards to the end zone to put Cedartown on the board. After a blocked kick, the Bulldogs now trailed 29-6.
Rockmart took over with around five minutes left until halftime. Though Cedartown’s defense stood tall on several third-down situations, multiple penalties on the Bulldogs helped get the Jackets into the CMS red zone. They would capitalize on a ten-yard run by Nahzir Turner with only 15 seconds left in the half. Alegria’s kick was blocked, making it a 37-6 halftime score.
On the extra point, Cedartown’s Cade Wheeler was down. Initial indications were of an elbow injury, and play was halted for around fifteen minutes as an ambulance was brought to take Wheeler to the emergency room. Thankfully, Wheeler will be okay, but he was unable to return in the second half.
The Bulldogs started out the second half on offense and had their best drive of the day. After picking up a first down on the ground, Cedartown went to the air. Isaiah Johnson’s pass was deflected by a RMS defender directly into the waiting hands of Edgar Martinez. He darted down the field and dove for the pylon, but was marked out just shy of the goal-line. A successful quarterback sneak by Johnson put the Bulldogs back on the board and made it a 37-12 game.
Unfortunately for the Cedartown faithful who made the trip to the east side of the county, this was the last time the Bulldogs would score. Rockmart focused on running out the clock in the second half. Brent Washington escaped the defense for a 35-yard score late in the third to make it 43-12.
On the ensuing CMS possession, Johnson’s pass was picked off by Jake Bailey. The Jacket ran it back 40 yards and, after another good kick by Alegria, made it a 51-12 game. That would be the final score in the 2019 Floyd County Athletic Association Middle School Football Championship Game.
Cedartown finished with 101 yards of total offense, with 94 of those coming in the air. Isaiah Johnson completed four of his six pass attempts for 94 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He added a score on the ground. Taidji Neal was the only other CMS rusher in positive yardage, who finished with ten yards on eight carries. Defensively, Cedartown had a good game from a few players. Edgar Martinez, Mickey Esquival, Ajani Logan, and Neal all recorded tackles for loss.
As for the victorious Jackets, they did not complete a pass in the win simply because they did not have to. Rockmart tallied 285 rushing yards in the win, with a vast majority of that coming from JD Davis and Brent Washington. Davis finished with 118 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries, whereas Washington recorded 111 yards and a pair of scores on ten carries. Their run defense was stout the entire game and, aside from a few missed assignments, the pass defense was on point as well. The early fumble recovery by Rockmart, along with Jake Bailey’s interception return for a touchdown, were the only takeaways of the game.
With the win, Rockmart clinched the FCAA Middle School Football Championship. The Jackets crushed everyone in the league this season, including going 2-0 against rival Cedartown with wins of 41-0 and 51-12.
Cedartown finished in second place for the first time in four years. The Bulldogs, who had won 43 consecutive games before falling to Rockmart in regular season play on Oct. 1, finished 6-2.