5 to Watch: Rome, Ware, Griffin
One of the more intriguing teams to watch in Class AAAAA this season is expected to be Rome. The Wolves are loaded with talent, have an excellent coach in John Reid and appear to be on the precipice of returning to the state championship conversation.
“The kids have done a fantastic job,” said Reid, who is starting his second season at the school. “Last year a lot of things had to be corrected – the weight room, the approach the practice. They bought into and it’s been enjoyable.”
The No. 6-ranked Wolves open the season by stepping up to play Class AAAAAAA Harrison in Kenesaw. The Hoyas began the season last week by thrashing East Paulding – ironically where Reid coached from 2006-2011.
“We’d like to pick up where we left off last year and build from there,” Reid said. “We play some tough teams early and there’s a lot of anticipation.”
Rome started the season 3-3 before getting its footing in midseason and winning five straight before it lost at Ware County in the second round of the playoffs.
The Wolves are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. The defense features some big, talented linemen: junior end Adam Anderson (6-6, 235), who already has offers from Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State and Miami; junior tackle Jaquon Griffin (6-1,2 75) and junior tackle Jamarcus Chatman (6-3, 245). And outside linebacker Jaylen Griffin (6-3, 225) is equally adept at rushing or covering. Griffin has committed to Virginia Tech.
The offense is led by sophomore quarterback Knox Kadum, who threw for 2,000 yards and a school-record 18 touchdowns. He has two outstanding backs in junior Jaylynn Sykes and Jamious Griffin. Sykes ran for 1,025 yards and has a combination of speed and power. Griffin scored 10 touchdowns last year and is a powerful runner. Zach Kadum, who has numerous college offers, holds down left tackle.
This will be the first meeting between Rome and Harrison.
Here are some other interesting games this weekend:
Spalding at Griffin: Griffin alum Antonio Andrews will make his debut as head coach at his old school against crosstown rival Spalding. Andrews has been an assistant coach at the school since 2005 and was hired when the school parted ways with Jarret Laws after two seasons.
Confidence is high for the Bears (6-5 in 2015) in the aftermath of an enthusiastic off-season that saw them win the 7-on-7 passing league camp at the University of Georgia and Dalton.
Andrews told the Griffin Daily News, “We’re getting that swagger back.” Griffin is one of the favorites in Region 3-AAAAAA.
Griffin lost to its kid brother for the first time a year ago, with Spalding taking a 28-6 decision. Griffin had won the first seven meetings.
Glynn Academy at Ware County: No. 2-ranked Ware County will open the season with Glynn Academy in a rematch of last year’s semifinal game. The teams played twice last year and Glynn won both meetings.
Ware was impressive in its preseason scrimmage against Camden County, winning 21-0. The Gators are led by quarterback JeMar Lincoln and running back Gary Williams.
Glynn (0-1) lost its opener to Benedictine after losing five fumbles, which offset 212 yars rushing. It was the first time in six years that Glynn has lost its opener.
Ware County has won eight of the 11 games in the series between the two southeast Georgia programs. But Glynn Academy beat the Gators twice last year – once in the regular season and once in the Class AAAA semifinals.
Jones County at Washington County: Jones County (0-1) can’t afford to have a three turnover night against Washington County. The Greyhounds need to be more efficient on offense; they threw for 271 yards, but had minus-41 yards rushing and no first downs on the ground. Brad Hunnicutt threw for 271 yards and Nick Singleton caught 11 passes for 197 yards, including a 41-yard touchdown.
The two Middle Georgia program have met only three times, with Jones winning two of those, and haven’t played since 1991.
Dutchdown at Ola: The Region 4-AAAAA season opens for these teams on Friday, the first game for Dutchtown, the second for Ola, which stopped Pike County 31-14 in the opener.
The win was a nice start for Ola quarterback Bryce Lawrence, who threw for a touchdowns, and the ever-dependable Christopher Rodriguez, who scored twice.
Dutchdown looked good in its scrimmage win over Griffin. The Bulldogs expect the defense to play well and needs to limit Rodriguez, who rushed for 139 yards against them a year ago.
Dutchtown has won the first six meetings between the two teams and prevailed 36-26 in 2015. Ola is still looking for its first winning season and Dutchtown is looking to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2010.