Week nine of the high school football season provides an opportunity to examine two teams who are headed in opposite directions. While one squad gets the week off after a thrilling victory over a region rival that’s a mere miles from its own campus, another team gets to get back on the field hoping to salvage what’s left of its season.
Rockdale will get a much-deserved Friday off after holding off Newton 28-21 in overtime last weekend. The Bulldogs trailed two different times including in the fourth quarter before tying the game with Akwesi Mintah’s second touchdown grab of the night midway through the final period.
Rockdale, which hit its bye week at 5-3 - the most wins the program has had after eight games since the 2009 state final four team was also 5-3 - then got a touchdown hook up between quarterback Tajee Steele and Terrell McLaughlin in overtime and a defensive stand at the other end to preserve the league victory.
“We had an opportunity and we came in and the offense got the job done. The offensive coaches made some great calls tonight,” Rockdale coach Venson Elder said afterwards. “The defense stepped up, man.”
Defending Region 2-AAAAAA champion Lovejoy looks poised to repeat, but Rockdale is one of four teams, along with Newton, Alcovy and Luella, jockeying for the other three state playoff spots. Rockdale is 2-2 in league play with two remaining regular season games against Alcovy November 1 at Reid Stadium and on the road at Druid Hills on the final day of the regular season, November 8.
Salem doesn’t appear to be making any postseason plans, which would keep the Seminoles out of the state playoffs for the sixth consecutive season.
The Conyers school comes into Friday’s home game with Apalachee 2-5 overall and 1-4 in Region 8-AAAAA. After a 2-2 start that included a loss (Heritage, 17-14) and a win (Winder-Barrow, 60-37) in region play, the Seminoles have dropped three consecutive leagues games by a combined score of 129-30.
The defense has struggled during the streak and overall (allowing an average of 29 points in seven games), while the offense hasn’t been much better.
The Seminoles scored the third-most points in school history in the win over Winder-Barrow and dropped 26 on Wesleyan in a shut out victory in week two, but in the other five games have scored a total of 44 points.
There could be relief this week as winless Apalachee travels to Conyers. The Wildcats have allowed an average of over 42 points in losing their first seven games, five of which have come in region play.