L-R: LANEAR MCCRARY (RB/DB) SR CAM FERGUSON (RB/LB) SR DENNIS SIMS (WR/DB) SR - Photos Andy Calvert
For many years, the thought around Northwest Georgia was that if Rockmart could find the right football coach, the sky was the limit for the Yellow Jackets program. While several solid coaches came and went at the Polk County school, none managed to truly turn the Jackets into a force to be reckoned with.
In stepped Biff Parson in 2016 and ever since he took over, the Jackets have been stinging opponents with reckless abandon, reaching the playoffs every season, grabbing five consecutive region titles, and generally wreaking havoc and mayhem upon all foes.
As Parson heads into his seventh year with the program, the win and losses don’t lie. Rockmart is experiencing its best run of football since the late 1950s and has established itself as one of Northwest Georgia’s upper-tier programs.
The 2021 season ended in the opening round of the playoffs. A knee injury to starting quarterback JD Drew didn’t help things and as 2022 rolls around the Yellow Jackets are hoping for a healthy Drew back behind center as the team moves to a new region home.
After spending the previous two seasons in Region 6-3A, the Jackets have moved back to Region 7-AA, a destination the program is quite familiar with. However, the region has undergone some serious changes as far as teams go. Region 7-AA historically has been the home for several Floyd County squads but this year only Model remains from Floyd County.
Joining Rockmart in the region are Model, Fannin County, Haralson County, Murray County, North Murray, and Gordon Central. Several of the coaches in the newly formatted region have talked about how strong the competition will be this season with many noting that adding Rockmart doesn’t make things any easier for teams trying to capture the region crown.
While the region schedule looks daunting, it pales in comparison to the non-region schedule for the Jackets, who take on several top-notch opponents before entering the Region7-AA fray when they play host to Model on Sept. 30.
Rockmart plays county rival Cedartown to start the season before playing Class 5A Cass and Dalton and then playing host to Class A Irwin County, the state runner-up last year in its classification.
Those four games will make sure the Jackets are truly battle-tested and provide some serious big-game atmospheres to prepare the squad for the region contests and potential playoff games later down the road.
Although Rockmart does lose several players from last year’s team, the Jackets return several key players ready to try to win a sixth-straight region title for the Jackets.
The before-mentioned Davis at quarterback is one of several all-region honorees from last year returning. If he can recover from the knee injury, he will provide the Jackets plenty of oomph and offensive prowess at quarterback. Offensive lineman Montreas Simmons is back as is linebacker Brent Washington and defensive back and wide receiver Dennis Sims.
Sims along with tight end Grant Lisk and running backs Brent Washington and Cam Ferguson give the Jackets a host of weapons on offense. While the defense took some big hits, there are plenty of players with game experience willing and able to step up into bigger roles for the season.
The last two years Rockmart was in Region 7-AA, 2018 and 2019, they won 11 and 14 games, respectively. Both years they lost to the eventual state champion in the playoff with the 2019 squad reaching the finals before falling.
As mentioned earlier, the prevailing thought of Rockmart finding the right coach might have been correct, and now Parson and his charges look to continue a level of success almost unprecedented at Rockmart.