Now the Wolves turn their focus to a season opener that places a spotlight on the team’s contest with 7A contender Marietta and the quest for another GHSA title.
Rome made quick work of New Manchester at Barron Stadium on Friday night, running out to a 35-0 lead by the middle of the second quarter and owning a 56-6 advantage before the scoreboard was reset going into the final period.
The offense’s efficiency was powered by a core group of senior skill players as quarterback Knox Kadum was 4 of 5 for 73 yards and three touchdowns — all to receiver Xavier Roberts-Donaldson — and Jamious Griffin finished with 11 carries for 112 yards and a touchdown.
Most of the first string offense came off before the end of the first quarter, but that didn’t stop Rome’s production as junior Traceton Lawrence totaled 124 yards rushing and a touchdown on 11 carries. The 5A squad racked up 220 yards rushing in the first half alone.
“I think we played with some speed and intensity,” Rome head coach John Reid said. “It’s a scrimmage, so we got a chance to play a bunch of kids and a bunch of young kids who deserve to play. You don’t always get that opportunity. And we got to see that we’ve got a lot to work on. And I think that everybody will probably see that after this week in Georgia.”
Derricus Smith and Octaveous Askew led a speedy Wolves defense that held New Manchester to just 30 yards of offense in the first quarter and forced the Jaguars to go three-and-out on three of its first four possessions. The fourth ended when Rome’s Marquis Glanton recovered a fumble on his opponent’s 24-yard line.
Kadum hooked up with Roberts-Donaldson on the very next play with a high-arching 27-yard TD.
Rome wasted little time as it took the opening possession and went 64 yards in four plays and 59 seconds, capping it with Kadum’s first touchdown pass to Roberts-Donaldson. The Wolves only had the ball for 5 minutes and 41 seconds in the first quarter but still led 28-0 by the end of it.
Rome now goes into a short week with its first regular season game at Barron Stadium on Thursday night against Marietta as part of the 2018 Corky Kell Classic, presented by Harbin Clinic.
Kadum said he knows it’s going to be a tough week of preparation, but the team’s performance on Friday was a good way to go into it.
“I think this really helped boost the confidence of a lot of our younger guys going into Marietta week,” he said. “We know we’ve got to go to work the next few days. But, all in all, we did mostly our base offense and we executed at a high level. Defense gave up just one touchdown. You can’t ask for much better than that.”
Rome scored two touchdowns on defense as Jamar Roberts had a 7-yard fumble return for a score in the second quarter and Tim Jones ran back a 46-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter.
There were a few mistakes that caught Reid’s eye, especially with his team fumbling three times on the night and losing two of them.
“We’re going to get a chance to meet and watch some film this weekend. We’re going to have to do that,” Reid said. “And it’s so early that one of the things that worries you is special teams, and we’re going to have to work a bunch on that. And some of our young guys put the ball on the ground which is uncommon for us, so we’ve got to take a look at that. I think we’ll be able to make a point about ball security pretty poignantly.”
New Manchester’s Jomaurie Hester was responsible for the majority of his team’s offense as he caught a 66-yard bomb from quarterback Jimmy Inman in the second quarter for the Jaguars’ lone touchdown.
The Wolves’ kicking game got in on the evening’s theme of Rome dominance as kicker Alonzo Rodriguez sent six of his eight kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks through the first three quarters. His other two were caught at the 1- and 2-yard line.