With the first week of school in the books and players having limited time practicing in pads, Rockmart head football coach Biff Parson had concerns with how his team would come out in its first preseason scrimmage.
By the end, he had some sighs of relief.
A tussle against Class AA Bremen saw the host Jackets shrug off some early-season cobwebs and show their fans they still have speed and athleticism on their side with a 41-6 win over the Blue Devils.
Lanear McCrary ran for 133 yards on five carries, most of which came on a 70-yard sprint just before halftime, while Dennis Sims and Brent Washington made plays on both sides of the ball through the first half. Sims had a pick-six and made a 62-yard touchdown catch, and Washington scored on a 9-yard run and caused havoc for Bremen’s offense at linebacker.
“I was proud of how our guys played. That’s a good football team over there. We had some concerns because this week of practice we only had a limited amount of hours and really three days in pads. I thought our alignments and assignments were good, but we did make a ton of mistakes,” Parson said.
The majority of the game saw JD Davis and Mason Phillips split time behind center for Rockmart, continuing the process of auditioning to take over for Javin Whatley, who is now at UT-Chattanooga.
Both appeared calm under pressure. Davis finished the night with a pair of touchdown passes, while Phillips threw the Jackets’ only interception. The scrimmage did not allow live tackling on the quarterback.
“I thought our two quarterbacks kind of settled in and managed the offense really well,” Parson said. “Defensively we flew around as expected. That’s kind of what we hang our hat on is our defense here at Rockmart.”
Each team punted away their first possessions before Bremen made the first big play of the evening with a 30-yard pass to get inside Rockmart’s 25-yard line. The Jacket defense dug in, however, and forced them to attempt a 37-yard field goal that was unsuccessful.
Rockmart responded with a seven-play, 80-yard drive highlighted by a 45-yard run from McCrary and a touchdown by Washington.
Bremen looked like it would be set up again to try and score with a 23-yard pass on the first play of the ensuing drive to get into Jacket territory, but Sims read the Blue Devil quarterback and snatched a long pass at the Rockmart 34. He then proceeded to take it 66 yards to the end zone.
“That was huge because anytime you can steal momentum that’s a big part of the game,” Parson said. “Great job by the defense dealing with adversity and then overcoming it and playing the next play. That’s what we talk about.”
Sims would get the call on offense when Rockmart’s next possession came around as he turned a mid-range pass from Davis into a touchdown.
The Jackets finished with 251 yards of offense in the first half and finished with 417 on the night.
Rockmart will travel to Carrollton on Friday for its final tune-up before the season starts in earnest next Friday, Aug. 20, as the Jackets host Class 6A Rome at The Rock.