There’s a lot to celebrate at Rockmart High School this week, especially for football fans: the team finished the regular season with their third region championship in a row, and went undefeated against all comers including a back-to-back win over rival Cedartown.
Yet if the Jackets want to remain at the top of the mountain, they’ll have to keep playing at the top of their game as the Class AA state playoffs begin this week.
Sitting at No. 4 in the state in the Georgia Public Broadcasting poll behind first place Dublin, second place Callaway and Hapeville Charter in fourth, they are in the right place to fight their way to a state title game this season.
Especially as they prepare this week for a Temple Tigers team coming off a big regular season win over Lamar County on a two-game winning streak.
The Jackets are coming into their first round home playoff game with a 27-0 win over Model, one where Head Coach Biff Parson said they felt they could have put more points on the board had they not run up against a Model defense that got help due to untimely Rockmart penalties.
Despite that, Rockmart comes into the Rock off their third shutout of the season, and an offense that has now put 455 points on the scoreboard over 10 opponents on the year, now averaging 45 points per game on the year.
A fourth-seed Temple comes into the game with a 6-4 record and finishing the season 3-3 in Region 5-AA, which includes No. 2 in the state Callaway and defending state champion Heard County.
Over in that region, the Cavaliers finished in first place, with Bremen coming in second and Heard in third on the year. Their last two wins included a 23-6 Week 9 win over Spencer, and a regular season closer where the Tigers squeaked out a 28-26 win over Lamar County to secure their fourth seed spot in 5-AA.
It has been a while since the Tigers and Jackets have faced each other on the field, 10 years to be exact. Rockmart holds a 4-0 advantage over Temple from 2006 to 2009 when Dan Duff was head coach and the two teams were in a previous form of 7-AA that included two divisions made up of Northwest Georgia teams.
The common denominator between the Jackets and Tigers this season is both teams faced off against the defending state champion Heard County. The Jackets in a home standoff against Rockmart fell 47-13 to the Jackets during a four-game losing skid, but regrouped and went on a three game streak including a win over Temple on Oct. 11 41-13.
The Tigers also fell to second-ranked Callaway in a 34-6 road trip in region play, and to Bremen at home as well.
Expect Rockmart to regroup and use all their offensive weapons against the Tigers, while keeping Temple off-balance with a defense that still is averaging only giving up 8 points per game and shutting out three teams.
The way the playoff brackets shake out has Rockmart facing Temple in the first round in hopes of getting to a Sweet 16 round against the winner of the Brooks County-Washington County first round match-up. If the Jackets win on Friday night, they’ll host the winner of Brooks-Washington for the second round.