Game: North Clayton (0-2) at Rome (0-1)
Last meeting: Rome 35, North Clayton 0 (Aug. 31, 2018)
All-time series: Rome leads 1-0
On the web: For score updates throughout Friday’s games, visit RN-T.com.
Rome High’s varsity football coaches haven’t given players much time to reflect on their first game of the season, but they’ve spent plenty of time learning from it.
Since the Wolves lost to nationally-ranked Marietta in the Corky Kell Classic on Aug. 22, Rome head coach John Reid said they have focused on getting faster off the ball and executing better.
The Wolves will try to do just that Friday night as they host North Clayton at Barron Stadium in Rome’s second, and final, non-region contest of the season before jumping into 7-5A competition.
“It will be two weeks since we played, and we didn’t play very well when we did play,” Reid said. “But we’ve been working on that. You never know what you’ve got until you get out there and play live.”
A hard lesson came early against the Blue Devils when Rome fumbled the ball on its first kickoff return of the game, which led to a quick 14-0 lead for Marietta. Reid said another issue was not being able to keep Marietta from converting on third-and-long.
“We’ve got to see if we can improve this week,” Reid said. “One thing I saw that was evident was our kids didn’t point fingers. We didn’t play well on defense so, as coaches, we’ve got to do a better job of getting these kids to play better, get them to the ball better and get some turnovers made.”
The game did see the emergence of a productive passing game for Rome as first-year starting quarterback Caleb Ellard found Jay Wise on two touchdown passes in the third quarter. Reid said he was glad to see that turn out, but knows they will have to get the ball back in the offense’s hands more to get in a position to be successful.
North Clayton comes into Friday’s game having lost its first two games of the season. The Eagles from College Park were shut out by Riverdale, 36-0, in their season opener before losing 36-16 to Woodland out of Stockbridge last week.
While many of the AAAA team’s players play both ways, they do return quarterback Courtney Colbert and 6-foot-4 receiver Onuma Dieke this season to help give their offense some stability.
“It’s a tough part of the year because you have Labor Day and an early game to go with a week off, so you can’t get the season going,” Reid said. “We’re trying to get this thing rolling, and it will be rolling here soon with region play. So we’re going to see if we can’t play a little harder, play a little faster, and see what happens.”
— Jeremy Stewart