Rome football journeys into Class AAAAAA after claiming back-to-back state titles in 2016 and 2017.
Region 5-6A is certainly a different concoction from 7-5A. The only teams that remain as Rome’s regional opponents from 2019 are Carrollton, East Paulding and Paulding County. Cass, Hiram, Kell, Villa Rica and Woodland, Cartersville are now gone. In their place, Alexander, Dalton, Douglas County and South Paulding join the ranks.
Rome will have an opportunity to renew its rivalry with the Carrollton Trojans in Carrollton. Whenever the Trojans and Wolves have met on the football field, the contests have generally been quite competitive.
The Trojan football program is steeped in tradition. Last year, the Trojans went 11-2, falling to Buford in the quarterfinals 24-21.
Last year’s starting quarterback for Carrollton was sophomore Myles “MJ” Morris. Morris threw 131-for-216 for 2,186 yards and 20 touchdowns with only six interceptions in 2019.
Last year, Carrollton picked up its first win over Rome since the Trojans joined Region 7-5A in 2016. During their meeting last September, Morris was 14-for-30 for 177 yards, one touchdown and a pick. By comparison, Rome’s Caleb Ellard went 11-for-33 for 96 yards with one TD.
The Wolves and Trojans will meet at Grisham Stadium in Carroll County on Friday, Oct. 9, and that will be a game to have circled on the calendar.
Alexander High School, located in Douglas County, remains in Class 6A. The Cougars completed the year 5-6, qualifying for the state playoffs but falling to Johns Creek 59-34 in the first round.
The Dalton Catamounts completed 2019 at 7-4, falling at Dacula 49-18 in the first round. The Catamounts lost a tremendous running back in Jahmyr Gibbs, who signed a football scholarship with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Gibbs ran for an eye-popping 2,554 yards and 40 touchdowns. Dalton will likely turn to senior back Maurice Howard and junior Ashton Blackwell.
The Douglas County Tigers just missed out on the playoffs last season, finishing 2019 at an even .500 (5-5). The Tigers went 4-4 in Region 5-6A, just one place below Alexander. Douglas County will be looking for a rebound back over .500, as 2016, 2017 and 2018 all saw improvements in the record and qualifications for the state playoffs.
South Paulding had a successful 2019 that came to an end in the second round at the hands of Houston County 38-22. It was a major resurgence for a program that had won just a combined five games in three years.
Paulding County moves up to Class 6A, but it has been an uphill battle as of late for the Patriots. The Pats have not finished above .500 since 2015. East Paulding is looking to right the ship after a 3-7 2019 campaign. Head coach Billy Shackelford enters his fourth season at the helm of the Raiders.
Last season, Rome beat Paulding County 51-14 and shut out East Paulding 45-0.