Markus Smith

Rockmart's Markus Smith (left) has 1,142 yards and 18 touchdowns rushing this season as the Jackets have advanced to the Class AA state championship game. / File-Jeremy Stewart

The Rockmart Yellow Jackets lead the pack on the Region 7-AA list with 12 players receiving first-team honors as voted on by the league’s coaches, not to mention more on the second team and honorable mention.

Jacket head coach Biff Parson was named the 7-AA Coach of the Year for the second year in a row after guiding Rockmart to back-to-back region titles, while running back Markus Smith was named the 7-AA Player of the Year and quarterback Dylan Bailey was named the region’s Offensive Player of the Year.

Both Smith and Bailey were first-team all-region selections last season as juniors.

Defensive Player of the Year for 7-AA went to Coosa’s Gavin Hughes, a linebacker for the Eagles who helped them win four of their last five and earn a berth in the state playoffs. The senior committed to play for Mercer University earlier this year.

Rockmart has gone undefeated this season and is a week away from playing Heard County in the Class AA state championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The Jackets have had one of the top all-around teams in the state, averaging 45.8 points per game while holding opponents to an average of 8.5 points per game.

Smith has 1,142 yards rushing for 18 touchdowns so far on just 106 carries, an average of 10.8 yards per attempt. Bailey has thrown for 1,463 yards and 22 touchdowns against five interceptions this season, completing 69 of 114 attempts. He also has two more touchdowns on 173 yards rushing.

Other first-team selections for Rockmart include junior Juke Boozer — who was selected as both a wide receiver and defensive back — running back Zabrion Whatley, tight end Reed Couch, athlete Javin Whatley, defensive lineman Donte Williams and defensive back Tyler Abram.

Chattooga had nine players on the first team, while Pepperell had eight, Coosa and Model had four, and Armuchee had two.

Representing Pepperell is sophomore quarterback Gage Moses, linebackers Jack Bennett and Keelan Long, and a trio of defensive backs — Ryan Hurst, Camron Miles and Josh Ross.

Zack Minter was selected from the Dragons’ offensive line, while Payton Rhoades earned nods for both receiver and punter.

The Region 6-A/A All-Region team featured several Darlington and Trion players getting well-deserved honors. Darlington’s Tate Ratledge was named the region’s Lineman of the Year, while Trion’s Hagen Willingham was named Offensive Player of the Year.

Joining Ratledge on the 6-A/A first team from Darlington is running back Kolin Rogers, tight end Tommy Atha Jr., defensive lineman Cade Brock and defensive back Roth Wilcox.

Trion’s selections included offensive linemen Jake Hayes and Rylan Tomlin, as well as linebacker Braden Johnson and Chris Pace, who was slotted as an all-purpose selection.