Photos Andy Calvert - L-R: #24 DAQUAN BANKS-LB #4 JAKARI CLARK-WR/DB #3 DEDRIC GIBSON-DB
2020 RECORD: 9-2 (7-0, REGION 7-AA)
HEAD COACH: Biff Parson (52-10, 4 region championships and one state championship game appearance in 5 seasons at Rockmart; 62-30 overall)
ALL TIME RECORD: 871 games – 461 – 384 – 26 (54%)
TOTAL SEASONS: 97 FIRST SEASON: 1923 ALL STATE PLAYERS: 61
REGION CHAMPIONSHIPS: 12 (2020 LAST)
STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS: 1 (1950 LAST)
The Rockmart Yellow Jackets moved up a classification in 2020 and had a fantastic season by most coaches’ standards. However, Coach Biff Parson’s second goal was not reached: to play in and win game 15. In a situation as strange as the 2020 pandemic season itself, the Yellow Jackets ended up playing a GHSA AAA powerhouse in the second round of the playoffs instead of a potential matchup in the state championship game. The two schools battled to a triple overtime thriller that Rockmart came up on the short end of.
If you want to hear Coach Parson complain about how last year went, he’s not that type of coach. He’s going back to work on the two main goals he established at Rockmart High School: to win the region championship (RHS has won the last four region championships) and to play in and win game 15.
“However we get there and whatever it takes is what we want to do,” Parson says. “We have lots of experience returning from last year. This team has 14 seniors, and we are possibly as deep as we’ve ever been across the board.” He adds, “Our juniors and sophomores are big classes, about 20 players in each class. And we have to develop the upcoming 9th grade class to see where they fit in the grand scheme of things.”
Rockmart has a quarterback competition for the starting job this season. Senior Mason Phillips and Sophomore JD Davis are battling it out to see who will be the triggerman in 2021.
The Yellow Jackets return a stable of running backs this season. There is senior Keyshaun McCollough, juniors Lanear McCrary and JoJo Haynes, and sophomore Brent Washington. All these players had more than 400 yards total offense each and they all scored touchdowns. Another back, junior Tyshawn Johnson was hurt in the first game of 2020 and missed the entire season. Parson is looking forward to seeing what Johnson brings to the team this year, along with other talented sophomores and freshmen with the potential to be effective in 2021.
At receiver, the Yellow Jackets will have senior Jakari Clark, juniors Dennis Sims and Grant Lisk (TE), along with other talented players for depth at the position.
Parson doesn’t really worry about his talent at the skill positions and is proud to say: “We’ve been blessed for my five years here with a lot of good skill position guys.”
Up front, the Yellow Jackets are replacing two linemen from last year. Look for seniors Clayton Floyd and Tay Middlebrooks to step into these spots, with both having the experience of playing since they were freshmen. Parson says, “We feel good about the hogs up front.”
Defensively, Rockmart has a lot of starters and experience returning, only having to replace one lineman, a linebacker, and a safety.
In the trenches, Floyd and Middlebrooks will be counted on for leadership at both lines of scrimmage.
At linebacker, Daquan Banks will be a four-year starter, leading a crew of himself, fellow seniors Terrian Webb, Lanear McCrary, and Brent Washington, as well as sophomore JJ Stocks, whom Parson describes as “so long and fast.”
The defensive backfield is deep and talented. Rockmart has a stable of cornerbacks, featuring last year’s region 7-AAA interception leader, senior Deidric Gibson. He is accompanied by Tyshawn Johnson, Jakari Clark, JoJo Haynes, and Keyshaun McCollough.
“The performance of this team will come back to the leadership of this senior class and what kind of identity they will have,” says Parson. “Each senior class has a different leadership style and unique identity.”
Parson continues: “We gotta see if this team is a mentally tough team, and physically tough. Can they prepare well? Will they workout in the weight room well? Will they bond together? Will we have to separate cliques? We must make sure the older guys don’t just stay together around each other.”
“We’re trying to groom and direct them to make sure they do what we’ve always done,” Parson explains, “and work to make it better. We always adjust the culture to raise the bar, starting in the locker room. If they like each other and play for each other, it’s easy. If they’re coachable, it’s easy.”
Rockmart has had one coaching change in the 5-year Biff Parson era, so the continuity of the coaching staff is really good. But the coaches don’t suit up and hit the field. “At the end of the day,” Parson says, “the players gotta show up on Friday nights. They have to do their due diligence Monday thru Thursday to prepare themselves and be ready for Friday nights, because at any point any of their numbers can and will be called.”
2021 GAMES OF SIGNIFICANCE
- 8/20/2021 vs Rome
A rematch of the 2020 Corky Kell Classic Game at Rome’s Barron Stadium. Rockmart came away on the short end with a 7-point loss (21-28).
- 8/27/2021 @ Cedartown
The annual Battle for Polk County. Rockmart is 4-1 in this series with Parson at the helm with only one game decided by less than three touchdowns, last year’s 21-10 Yellow Jacket win.
- 10/1/2021 vs North Murray
This was a tough region game last year that Rockmart won 49-42 in Chatsworth.