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FOOTBALL: Wolves’ O-line comes into its own

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Rome’s offense is always finding new ways to attack opponents. But one constant in each one has been the guys up front.

The Wolves’ offensive line has been the first point of attack for the litany of weapons Rome has at its disposal, whether it’s quarterback Knox Kadum’s dual-threat ability, running backs like Jamious Griffin or all-purpose threats like Xavier Roberts-Donaldson.

And the unit knows how much it contributes on every play.

“This line takes pride in a lot of things. So if we see a rushing stat, we know we’re a part of that,” senior tackle Tyler Lovingood said. “If you look at the Buford defense, there were high-level recruits everywhere. So we know we did our job when we see those stats.”

The offensive line has been especially noteworthy in the past two weeks against Starr’s Mill and Buford. Going against two region champions, the Wolves averaged 376 rushing yards and allowed a combined two sacks.

This type of control at the line of scrimmage has allowed the Wolves to dominate time of possession in most games. And as the opposing defense begins to wear out, Rome’s offense keeps rolling.

Rome head coach John Reid said the unit has been capable of performances like those all year.

The athletes were always there, but it took hours in the weight room and the practice field to find the finished product.

“I think last year we were still trying to put pieces of the puzzle together. There were kids still learning the system,” Reid said. “But with some time and good coaching, these kids have really turned into something special.”

The unit’s growth is even more surprising considering the Wolves saw former tackle Zach Kadum graduate in May after signing with Samford and starting a school-record 39 consecutive games.

But before he left the team, he left a specific message to the unit he was leaving behind.

“He just told us that it was our turn,” senior tackle Jackson Norton said. “He had been a great leader for this unit for a long time, and it was our turn to step it up.”

Now, the offensive line and the rest of the Wolves go against Warner Robins today in Atlanta for the Class 5A state championship. While being known for their offense, the Demons have allowed 18.7 points per game and kept Carver to seven points in last week’s semifinal win.

No matter the numbers, the offensive line is still going to trust itself.

“The offense starts with us, and all five of us need to be on the same page for it to work,” Lovingood said. “We have to know exactly what our role is on every play. If we’re on the same page, I think we’ll be fine.”