Before 1992 in Floyd County, there was no Kmart and no Walmart. In those locations, you would find East Rome and West Rome High Schools. Bitter rivals in football and just about everything else, East Rome & West Rome were on a course that, in 1992, did the unthinkable. A merger into one school did away with the East and the West and created a single high school, the Rome Wolves. Becoming a cohesive team was not an easy transition but now, after a quarter of a century, the Wolves appear to have learned how to become One Pack.
In Class 5A, the Wolves opened up the season 1-2 losing heartbreakers to 6A powerhouse, Harrison, and region foe, Kell, by a combined 5 points. While the losses came at the hands of two playoff teams with a combined record of 21-5, many in the Red & Gold faithful were wondering just what the season had in store for the pack, now led by a sophomore quarterback in his first year on the varsity squad and a band of four brothers known simply as the Griffin Boys.
Head Coach, John Reid gathered his squad and focused on the positives, including the play of sophomore quarterback, #12 Knox Kadum. The 6’2” 175 lb QB had a slow start in the opening two games throwing for 149 yards on 11 of 18 passing and just one touchdown but, during the loss to Kell, Kadum came alive. Going 18 of 28 for 219 yards and 2 touchdowns, Kadum gave Reid something to look forward to and something to build around.
With the power running game provided by fellow sophomore, #6 Jamious Griffin, who rolled off 339 yards on 40 carries for 4 scores over the first three games. With 8.4 yards per carry for Griffin, Reid knew that a passing attack to take away a defense’s ability to stack the box and stop the run would give the Wolves an offense to be feared. For the next seven regular season games, the Wolves offense has proven to be among the most potent in the state. Averaging a jaw-dropping 48 points per game, Kadum and Griffin lit up score boards across the 5A Division while the defense stepped up to match the offense with monster stats of their own. During those seven final games, the Wolves’ defense shut out three opponents and allowed multiple touchdowns in only one game. Outscoring their opponents 339-58, Rome won the Region 7-5A championship and opened up the playoffs at Barron Stadium with blowout wins over Miller Grove, 56-0, and Bainbridge, 45-0.
As the competition in the playoffs increased with their next two opponents, the Wolves proved up to the task. The quarterfinals saw the Wolves taking down the Region 2 Champs, Ware County, 42-13, and in the Semi-finals, the Region 4 Champs, Stockbridge, 28-21.
The season has seen almost constant improvement from Reid’s Wolves and, as the Pack is poised for their first ever trip to the Dome, the future looks absolutely dazzling for Rome fans as every major stat leader on the team is an underclassman. Kadum’s passing numbers rank him #12 (and the only sophomore in the top 20) in the state in 5A with 122 completions on 187 attempts for 1,731 yards and 16 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions. No slouch on his feet, Kadum added 603 yards on the ground with 96 rushes for another 5 touchdowns. Leading the pack on the ground has been Jamious Griffin, the youngest of the four Griffin brothers, with 194 carries for 1,418 yards and a staggering 25 touchdowns. Junior Jalynn Sykes #25, has been a speedy mix up in the backfield that keeps defenses from focusing too much on Griffin. Sykes has averaged 10 yards per carry while piling up 1,092 yards on the season and 16 touchdowns. Both backs rank in the top 15 in the state in 5A with Griffin being the #7 running back in the division.
In the air, #8 Jordan Watkins is just a 5’10” 145lb junior but he managed to pull in 49 catches for 790 yards receiving and 5 touchdowns to lead the team, including a monster 153-yard game against Villa Rica with 9 catches and 2 touchdowns. Watkins’ speed gave him a nice run against Miller Grove when he bolted 34 yards for his lone rushing touchdown. The “size” receiver for the Wolves has been another junior, #11 Tyrish Martin. At 6’2” and 195lbs, Martin caught 35 balls for 429 yards and three scores. In addition, Martin made his lone throw count as he dropped in a nice 26-yard touchdown pass against Bainbridge.
The important thing for Rome fans (and opponents) to remember, is that every one of these players will be back next year. Bigger. Faster. Stronger. Better.
But 2016 is far from over for this team bound for the Atlanta skyline and the final GHSA State Championship games to be held in the Dome, on Friday December 9th. John Reid began the season with a team of young pups that were forced to grow up fast. Forged in the iron of 5A football, the Wolves are now ready to bring home something that Rome has yet to achieve, a state title. In the tradition of Romulus and Remus, cast aside by their mother, Rhea, to be raised by wolves, Romulus defeated his own brother to build an empire known as Rome. And now the Rome Wolves take on a pack who already knows the taste of victory. The Buford Wolves hold 11 state championships with 10 of those coming in the last 15 years. Two wolves will battle in the Dome. While only one will leave a champion, the Rome Wolves have captured the hearts of northwest Georgia and they seem set on building an empire of their own.
Photo Credits: Rome High Football Facebook Page