The two-time Class 5A state champions and three-time Region 7-5A champions are back at it Friday night at Barron Stadium to start the state playoffs with the No. 1 ranking and an extra week of rest to take on Jackson-Atlanta.
Rome head coach John Reid said after completing the goals they had set for the season, the team can now focus on winning playoffs games — something the team has been proficient at for the past three seasons.
“These kids have been around,” Reid said. “These kids have been a part of 12 playoff games, so they know what’s expected here. Our goal was to win the region, get a home playoff game, and it’s kind of a weight off their shoulders to have that done. Now you just let it go — let it rip.”
The Wolves (10-0) take a bevy of offensive weapons into their matchup against Jackson-Atlanta (6-4) that’s helped Rome become one of a small percentage of teams in Georgia to score more than 500 points this season and a defense that has surrendered only 14.7 points per game.
Leading the way offensively is running back Jamious Griffin, who tops Class 5A with 2,024 rushing yards, and is the second-leading rusher in the state. The North Carolina State commit passed Herschel Walker’s career rushing touchdown record of 86 earlier this season and has 31 touchdowns so far this season.
Griffin’s five-touchdown performance against Villa Rica in the season finale led to the senior earning the USA Today Super 25 Player of the Week award, an honor he had been nominated for twice before.
The Wolves are ranked 15th in the nation in the USA Today Super 25 rankings and enter the playoffs having not played since Oct. 26 after having an open week last week. To keep the team focused on the postseason, Reid and his staff organized unique practice sessions last week.
“We enjoyed it,” Reid said of the break. “We had a great week of practice last week. We broke the team into two different groups and competed all week. We stayed healthy, so it was good for us. We created a red team and a gold team, and we competed in all kinds of different situations.”
The Wolves will go up against a Jaguars team Friday night that is heading into their second straight playoff appearance. Jackson-Atlanta, the No. 4 seed from Region 6-5A, has won four of its last five games and ended the season with a 40-7 loss to Riverwood, which finished as the Region 6-5A runner-up.
Even though the Jaguars are the No. 4 seed, Reid isn’t looking past them, especially when the Wolves were in the same situation three years ago when they knocked off top seed Stephenson 7-6 in the first round.
“They’ve had some success this season,” Reid said. “You don’t know. Three years ago, we were the No. 4 seed on the road at No. 1, and we won. So somebody out there is going to have that happen to them, and you don’t overlook anyone. You don’t know how big of a moment this is for some teams.”
Tickets for Friday’s game are $8 and will be available at the gate at Barron Stadium.