Imagine for a moment you are a freshman quarterback on your high school’s football team.

You are on the sidelines and all of the sudden, the senior quarterback goes down with an injury, your name gets called and you are in there with the big boys of Georgia’s Class AAAAAA. Sounds like a daunting task, no?

That was the exact situation Reece Fountain found himself in last October at Carrollton High School.

The predicament, coupled with the high expectations at Rome, put the pressure on Fountain. But he did not just weather the storm, he thrived.

Despite the loss to rival Carrollton, Fountain helped lead the Wolves to six straight victories, guiding the team to the Sweet 16 of the Class AAAAAA state playoffs. By season’s end, he had thrown for over 1,000 yards with eight touchdowns and no interceptions.

“Reece is an outstanding quarterback,” Wolves head coach John Reid said. “He certainly took the reins and under a tough situation last year got the chance to do the job and got some experience under him. He’s been great for us all summer and we’re expecting big things under him.”

On the verge of his sophomore season with a new offensive coordinator in Shane Sams, Fountain looks forward to doing his part to guide the Wolves to numerous victories.

“A full summer has helped a lot because we got a new offensive coordinator, so we had to get brand new plays,” Fountain said. “We got a whole summer to prepare for this season. We’re going to be a lot more prepared and ready to go from week one.”

The fall 2021 competition, though, will be stiff. Rome’s 2021 schedule is among the more difficult in the state, with the Wolves starting off with Class AAA heavyweight contender Rockmart, followed by Class AAAAAAA powerhouses Cherokee and Collins Hill.

Region 5-AAAAAA will pose several challenges as well, most notably defending region champion Carrollton.

Fountain said he’s looking forward to those challenges this fall.

“I like big games because it’s more pressure, more fans ... harder defenses to play against,” Fountain said.

After starting senior quarterback Caleb Ellard went down with a season-ending injury last year, Fountain said Ellard took him under his wing, helping to prepare the new man under center for the challenges the job entailed.

“He helped me a lot just going through all the plays and reads and footwork,” Fountain said. “Mentally, (he helped) a lot. He helped me get prepared for the games because for a freshman sometimes, ... your emotions can get overwhelmed, but he helped me stay calm and relaxed throughout. I got calmer and calmer as each game went on.”

Fountain also credits the Rome coaching staff, his 2020 offensive linemen and the senior leaders for helping him week-by-week.

“It says a lot about him (and) it says a lot about our coaches and preparation,” Reid said. “I think he bought into what the offense was and I think we tried to manage that for him. It’s not easy to get in there on Friday night and all of the sudden be the man, and once he got comfortable with that, I thought that we only got better as the season went along.”

Fountain said this offseason, he has been focusing on improving his physique.

“I’ve been eating a lot, lifting weights with (Wayne) Groves,” Fountain said. “(I’ve been working on) my speed as well, ... speed training. Just running a lot. Running 40(-yard dashes), shuttles and also working on my vertical.”

“I think he’s going to have much more confidence,” Reid said. “I think he’s pretty mature when he got in there as a freshman and didn’t throw any interceptions for the whole year. I want him to be more confident in his abilities. His arm’s way stronger, he’s bigger, he’s faster. He’s quite capable and I think he’s added strength. He’s worked his tail off in the weight room.”

Fountain and the Wolves kick off their 2021 campaign Friday at Rockmart High School, with the contest scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. start.

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