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YOUTH FOOTBALL: Unified Football teams will play for state titles Saturday

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Rome High School isn’t the only football team in town vying for a big win this weekend.

After a series of winning streaks, two Rome-Floyd Unified football teams will head to the GRPA Class A State Championship games this Saturday in Calhoun.

The Rome Elite, an 8U team, and the Rome Hit Squad, a 10U team, will play Chatham County teams at Calhoun’s Phil Reeve Stadium.

Both local teams have won games in the District 5 Class A GRPA pool play tournament. The Rome Elite defeated Dalton (54-0), Cartersville (47-0) and Bartow (56-0) counties. The Rome Hit Squad defeated Dalton (22-6), Cartersville (30-14) and Bartow (14-0) counties.

The teams also competed in the North Georgia Regional Championship, with the Rome Elite defeating West Walton 20-12 and the Rome Hit Squad defeating Bartow 20-12.

“We’re very excited about the boys getting the opportunity to play in the championship this weekend,” said Bill Jones, a coach for the Hit Squad. “No hill is too steep to climb. We bend, but we don’t break.”

“I am proud of the way these players and parents have bought into what we as coaches wanted to teach — unity, togetherness and family,” said Demarcus Daniel, a coach for the Rome Elite.

Rick Haase, football coordinator at Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation, said this is the first year the Unified Football program has organized teams to play in the Georgia Recreation and Parks Association tournaments.

“We invited all the league coaches to get together and identify the most talented and deserving players in our programs, and they also made recommendations as to who should coach the 10U and 8U leagues,” Haase said. “This was our attempt to give them ownership under our direction.”

Haase explained that the mentality of the game for recreational play and GRPA are very different.

“In the local league, the kids are there to play, learn and participate,” he said. “In GRPA, it’s about winning and being successful. Regardless of whether we win on Saturday, I think we’ve reached our goals this year.”

Haase praised all the coaches who have helped the teams get to this point.

“Our coaches this year have done a great job of working with the kids and communicating with the parents. The kids have had a really valuable experience.”

“We have watched these young men become brothers,” said Jones. “I tell them, ‘You don’t have to be a star, just play my role for your brothers on and off the field.’”

The Rome Elite will play Chatham County at 11 a.m., while the Rome Hit Squad will play Chatham County at 3 p.m.