Of the eight championship games that will be played this weekend, only the Class AAAAA final features two undefeated teams. No. 1 Rome and No. 4 Warner Robins are both 14-0 heading into their showdown for the title on Friday at 4:30 p.m.
Rome has won its last 26 games and will try to become the first team to win back-to-back AAAAA championships since Camden County in 2008-09. At that time it was the state’s highest classification.
Here is a breakdown of the Class AAAAA championship game:
The last time …
Warner Robins won a state championship: The Demons won their last state championship in 2004 in Class AAAA. The program is one of Georgia’s most iconic and has won four state titles. The Demons are trying to go 15-0 for the first time since 1981 under legendary coach Robert Davis.
Rome won a state championship: The Wolves won their first title a year ago. Most observers thought the school would be a superpower when West Rome and East Rome merged in 1991. Rome had some good years – the Wolves won the region championship from 2001-2006 – but didn’t make an appearance in the championship game until last season.
How they got there:
No. 4-ranked Warner Robins beat South Effingham 30-17, Eagle’s Landing 26-23 in OT, Carrollton 63-24 and Carver 31-7. No. 1-ranked Rome beat Cedar Shoals 63-13, Southwest DeKalb 56-0, Starr’s Mill 59-10 and Buford 59-10.
Meet the coaches
Warner Robins is coached by Mike Chastain, who is in his second season as the head man. The Demons went from 3-8 a year ago to 14-0. He was an assistant at Houston County, where he was the offensive coordinator, and Northside, where he worked with the legendary Conrad Nix.
Rome is coached by John Reid, who is 35-6 in three seasons at Rome. He coached three seasons at Tift County (14-17), six seasons at East Paulding (60-15) and four years in Tennessee (43-12). His teams at Alcoa, Tenn., won two state championships.
Half-dozen players to watch
Warner Robins: QB Dylan Fromm, WR Julius Cobbs, WR Jaeven West, WR Tyler Fromm, OL Christian Armstrong, RB Jarius Burnett
Rome: QB Knox Kadum, RB Jamious Griffin, RB Jalynn Sikes, WR Xavier Roberts, DE Adam Anderson, DE Jamarcus Chatman.
Breaking down the offense
Warner Robins averages 36.5 points. Quarterback Dylan Fromm was named Region 1’s Offensive Player of the Years. Fromm has thrown for 3,437 yards and 35 touchdowns and has a handful of quality receivers, each with different skill sets. Julius Cobbs leads with 68 receptions and 12 touchdowns. Running back Jarius Burnett has been a workhorse who has rushed for 1,248 yards and been tough in the clutch.
Rome averages 51.4 points and has scored 45-plus points in 13 straight games. Quarterback Knox Kadum has thrown for 1,956 yards and 22 touchdowns and is adept at running the offense. Kadum doesn’t have the strongest arm and he’s not the fastest guy, but he gets things done – and he wins. Jamious Griffin leads the team with 1,220 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns and Jalynn Sikes has rushed for 971 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Breaking down the defense
Warner Robins allows 18.8 points per game. The Demons have some good size on the line, led by Dalton Hedden, and like to clog the middle. The linebacking crew is led by Jerquan Parrish and Bobby Kelly and the defensive back crew features C.J. Harris and Jabari Miller – all were part of the all-region team.
Rome allows 10.2 points per game. The Wolves are loaded with great athletes, especially on the front line. AJC Super 11 pick Adam Anderson (9.5) sacks has committed to Georgia, Jamarcus Chatman has committed to Tennessee, and DT Quon Griffin (formerly LSU commitment).
Breaking down special teams
Warner Robins: Eli Mashburn has been a clutch guy who made field goals to beat Class AAAA finalist Peach County on Sept. 1 and Eagle’s Landing in overtime in the second round. He’s a reliable punter, averaging 34.5 points. Jaeven West is a breakaway threat as a kick returner.
Rome: Jose Leon is reliable on extra points and short field goals, but has limited range. John Cromer is a solid punter who averages 34.7 yards per kick. Xavier Roberts has done some good work returning kickoffs (41 yard average) and punts (13.2 yards).
Past meetings: The teams played in the Class AAAA quarterfinals in 2004, with Warner Robins prevailing 35-32.