The lumps came early for Rockmart this season, but the rewards may be coming soon enough.
Hosting Coahulla Creek for both their first Region 6-3A contest and Homecoming, the Yellow Jackets raced out to a 21-0 first quarter lead en route to a 42-7 thrashing of the Colts.
With sights set on winning a fifth straight region title, Rockmart used Friday’s game to serve notice it was still a team to be concerned about by handing Coahulla Creek its first loss of the season.
Rockmart (2-1, 1-0) had several weapons to strike against Coahulla Creek. Quarterback JD Davis was 6-for-6 for 126 yards and two touchdowns, while Dennis Sims took a punt around the Jackets’ 48-yard line in the second quarter and wriggled his way out of one tackle attempt after another before finding daylight and racing all the way to the end zone for six points.
Rockmart head coach Biff Parson said facing strong teams like Bremen and Carrollton in the preseason as well as Rome and Villa Rica before last week’s open week is paying off for them.
“If we’re trying to get over that second-round hurdle and get back to the state championship game, we feel like we need to play those types of teams that will challenge us,” Parson said.
Few challenges presented themselves to the Jackets on Friday. Five first-half possessions equaled five touchdowns for Rockmart, while Coahulla Creek (2-1, 0-1) failed to move the ball outside of its own territory in the first 24 minutes of play.
When the offensive line spearheaded by Tae Middlebrooks and Bobby High wasn’t crushing the Colts’ running backs, Terrion Webb and the defensive backs made life quite uncomfortable for quarterback Kace Kinnamon.
Coahulla Creek finished the first half with just 8 yards of total offense and one first down, which came as a result of a roughing the passer call against Rockmart as time ticked away quickly in the second quarter.
With Sims’ punt return leading to a 35-0 advantage for the Jackets, the game was put on a running clock midway through the second quarter, and the entire second half took around 30 minutes to complete.
“We talked about just Rockmart football and doing it the right way. Getting back to our toughness, our character,” Parson said. “We challenged our kids to be a little different as far as celebrating one another, find the joy of playing this game. And that first half was unbelievable.”
A quick four-and-out by the Colts on the opening possession gave way to a short punt and good field position for the Jackets to start their offense.
A hard run by Brent Washington followed by a 20-yard pass from Davis to Jakari Clark set up a 13-yard touchdown run from sophomore Nahzir Turner. Jose Alegria connected on his first of six extra points and Rockmart held a 7-0 lead with 9:51 left in the first quarter.
The pattern started again and the Jackets quickly asserted their domination over the Colts.
A failed conversion on fourth-and-1 by Coahulla Creek set up the next Rockmart drive, which Washington capped off with a 1-yard run on the fourth play. Mason Phillips came in at quarterback and hit JoJo Haynes on the run down the middle of the field for a 68-yard catch-and-go touchdown on the next Jacket possession.
Cam Ferguson caught a 1-yard toss from Davis early in the second quarter to put Rockmart up 28-0. And the Jackets’ scoring was rounded out by a one-play touchdown drive as Davis lofted the ball to a wide open Clark 50 yards down the field and the senior receiver easily trotted into the end zone.
“We talked about our goals this week of how we’re in region play now. We’ve got eight straight region games and we’re going for number five. And we can’t get number five by just beating the first one. There’s several hurdles in the way, and we’ve got to take it one week at a time,” Parson said.
“I know it’s a coaching cliche, but we just focus on Rockmart football, our alignments, assignments, and playing as fast and hard as we possibly can play.”
Rockmart will be on the road next week in Gordon County to take on Sonoraville as they move on to Game 2 in region play. The Phoenix were off last week and are 2-0 with non-region wins over Model and Fannin County by a combined score of 53-0.