Football fans returned to The Rock on Friday to not only get a glimpse of the 2020 Rockmart Yellow Jackets, but also to take another step towards returning to somewhat normal times during a year that has been anything but so far.
Spectators practiced physical distancing in the stands and some wore face masks as the Jackets held a preseason version of their Black and Gold Game intra-squad scrimmage, running a live-game scenario with the team split into two units.
In the end, each side reached the end zone four times, but the score was only secondary to the feel of seeing football being played under the lights and in front of fans again.
The Georgia High School Association announced earlier this month that all preseason scrimmages between different teams were canceled for this year amid the group’s policies to try and combat effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
So with Rockmart’s season-opener on Sept. 4 against Rome High coming up, the team held the event that usually marks the end of its spring practice in order to give coaches a chance to see the players in action in real-game situations.
Returning starting quarterback Javin Whatley ran for 71 yards on six carries and threw for 84 yards and two touchdowns as the signal caller for the Black Team, while JoJo Haynes ran for 108 yards on seven carries for a touchdown and also had a 20-yard reception from Whatley.
Jakari Clark had two catches from Whatley that both went for touchdowns — one on a 15-yard catch on the edge of the end zone and another that was a 28-yard reception.
Freshman JD Davis was behind center for the Gold Team and hit Keyshaun McCullough for a 23-yard catch-and-run for the evening’s first score. Later on, in the fourth quarter, Davis made a move on defense, intercepting a Jake Bailey pass and finding his way back 89 yards for a touchdown.
Both teams took some time to warm up, but that changed in the third quarter when the squads combined for four touchdowns. McCullough scored on a 5-yard run for the Black Team during the period, while the Gold Team’s Lanear McCrary got in the end zone from 9 yards out.
Brent Washington had some solid runs for the Gold Team, helping to set up some scoring opportunities and scoring on a two-point conversion. Kicker Jose Alegria was 4-for-5 on extra point attempts.
While there was little live tackling on quarterbacks, both squads’ defenses were able to get decent pressure on each signal caller, with Terrion Webb, Bobby High and Daquan Banks credited with “sacks” in the scrimmage. Clark also intercepted Davis in the third quarter, which led to a 15-yard TD run by Haynes on the following play.
Javin Whatley was 7-of-10 passing with no interceptions through three quarters of work and Davis finished 4-of-10.
The Jackets have some time to correct any mistakes and put a game plan in place before traveling to Barron Stadium on Sept. 4 to take on the Wolves. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.