The state football playoffs run through Polk County this postseason, and both Cedartown and Rockmart will be looking to carry their momentum into the first round this week and beyond.
With only one loss this season, Cedartown enters the Class 4A state playoffs as the No. 2 seed in Region 5-4A and will host Northwest Whitfield on Friday. Meanwhile, the Region 7-AA champion Rockmart Yellow Jackets host Monticello.
It’s the first time ever both schools have hosted first round playoff games in the same year.
Cedartown (9-1) is coming off a 47-14 thrashing of Chapel Hill in its regular season finale and had its only loss come at the hands of two-time defending state champion Cartersville.
Doyle Kelley, who has been a part of the Bulldogs’ program from over 30 years, took over as head coach this season and said it’s been rewarding to see his players succeed and help give Cedartown its first home playoff game since 2002.
“It’s been a dream I’ve wanted to do, and I’m living a dream. It’s been an unbelievable year, and it’s amazing how the kids have responded to what we’re doing and the coaching staff,” Kelley said.
“Getting to host a state playoff game is big, I don’t care what classification it is. We just want to go out and play well and Northwest is a good opponent. We’re looking for a good football game.”
Northwest Whitfield (6-4) had to play a mini-game Monday to determine its final seeding in Region 6-4A. The Bruins defeated Pickens 7-6 to earn the No. 3 spot.
Quarterback Trevon Wofford will lead Cedartown’s offense into battle as he has all season along with running back Tony Mathis.
The Bulldogs’ defense has been critical this season as they have won two of their last three games by three points or less.
Like Cedartown, Rockmart didn’t find out its first round opponent until late Monday night after Monticello (2-8) edged Putnam County 3-0 in their Region 8-AA mini-game.
“So we’re a little behind as far as prep work, but we’ll have a big day of practice tomorrow,” Rockmart head coach Biff Parson said Tuesday evening. “But we’re at home and don’t have to get on the road, so we’re excited about that.”
To increase the excitement, Parson said they will hand out rally towels to the first 500 fans at Friday night’s game.
“We’re trying to get a lot of support behind us as we try to make a run to the finals,” he said.
It’s been an outstanding year on offense for the Jackets as they have scored 41 or more points in six of their last seven games. Junior Zabrion Whatley has 1,206 yards and 16 touchdowns on just 100 carries, leading the way for a talented backfield.
However Parson was quick to point out that it’s the defense that is the deciding factor in winning games, and the ground game has been Monticello’s best approach this season.
“They’re going to run the football and have a quarterback who throws the ball well enough,” he said. “The offense is a special unit and will put up points when it can, but you’ve got to make sure your defense knows what they’re doing.”