Rockdale County head football coach Jamie Baldwin hasn’t forget how last season’s Week 2 matchup against Alcovy ended and neither has his players.

A Darren Stephens touchdown and subsequent successful extra point from Jonas Woodruff with two seconds remaining in the fourth quarter gave the Bulldogs a 20-19 advantage, until it didn’t. Instead an offsides call on the Tigers negated the point after, leading to a miss and eventual loss in overtime, 25-19.

Walking around with a sour taste in their mouths for the past 12 months, Baldwin didn’t hesitate to voice his opinion when asked if Friday night’s rematch will have any extra motivation behind it.

“Of course,” Baldwin said. “Every game that we came close to winning last season, certain things happened that caused us not to come out on top. Those games are always on the frontal lobe of our players and they all remember how it went down. They’re all excited and focused on redeeming themselves against Alcovy this season.”

While the current Alcovy coaching staff did not play a part in last season’s thriller, the remaining players on the Tigers roster will likely tell you that their victory over Rockdale County last season was equitable.

The Tigers never trailed from start to finish and led by as many as 13 points with 4:01 remaining in the fourth quarter. Leading 19-6, it took two touchdowns from the Bulldogs in the final 2:01 of play to have a chance to win at the buzzer.

376 yards rushing for Alcovy was the tale of the tape. Then juniors Andrae Robinson (148 yards rushing) and NaTorien Holloway (145 yards rushing) combined to score all three of the Tiger touchdowns, but their services are unknown heading into Friday's rematch. 

Robinson's expected to play, Holloway's status in question

Holloway, nor Robinson played in the Tigers’ 45-0 loss to Newton last Friday and have net to be named as full participants against Rockdale. That, however, will not stop how Baldwin and the Bulldogs (1-0) from preparing to slow down the Alcovy (0-1) offense on Friday.

The Tigers will enter competition Friday having scored just one offensive touchdown in their last seven games played dating back to Week 4 of last season.

“We’re going to game plan for the worst situations,” Baldwin said. “We know that (Andrae Robinson) hurt us last season with a lot of long runs and catches. I know he was on the sidelines against Newton, but I’m anticipating him being on the field. Whatever situation they have as far as injuries, we’re going to go ahead and assume that those guys are going to be out on the field Friday night.”

The Bulldogs will also have the tough task of preparing for first-year starting QB, MJ Stroud, who made his debut last Friday against Newton. While the sophomore failed to reach the end zone, his skillset has Baldwin’s full attention.

“He’s athletic,” Baldwin said. “Athletic quarterbacks always makes me nervous. In situations like last week, and this week, we will have to account for (Stroud) at all times. He will tuck it and run when he needs to,so you want to make sure that you’ve always got an eye on him.”

Strong start on defense

Against a mobile QB last week in Eagle’s Landing’s Jeremy Adams, the Bulldogs held him to zero yards on eight carries. As a unit, the Bulldogs held the Golden Eagles to a mere 57 yards rushing on 24 attempts.

Through the air, the Bulldogs held Adams to a 32 percent completion percentage (9 of 28) and intercepted him three times. All-in-all, the Bulldogs defense allowed just one touchdown.

“They played well,” Baldwin said of his defense. “I believe in speed on defense and those guys displayed everything that I promote as far as the defensive scheme is concerned. We still have some things that they need to work on. We’re still not completing the plays like I would like for them to as far as making those sure tackles when we need to. But as far as the effort and the motor, I think we’re doing pretty well.”

Baldwin also commended the play of senior quarterback Chandler Peters, a first-year starter for the Bulldogs. Peters linked up with senior receiver Darnell Stephens on a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.

Senior Noah McGlocking also came out of Friday night’s victory with a long highlight tape that included a 50-plus yard catch-and-run and an interception on defense.

“I told the guys after the game that the difference between this team and the previous ones that I’ve coached in the past since I’ve been at Rockdale is that we played four complete quarters,” Baldwin said. “They continued to play hard and kept fighting. Good things are going to happen once the kids stay persistent.”

Not all bad

The Tigers’ 45-0 loss to Newton in the debut of head coach Jason Dukes was not all bad in the eyes of the first-year coach. Stroud showed flashes against the Rams while the likes of defensive backs JaQuez Snell and Cameron Daniels and linebacker Demetrius Thrower each came up with big stops throughout the game on defense.

“Alcovy has a good program,” Baldwin said. “Based off film, they look good, they’re fundamentally sound and they execute well. They have some good skill players that impressed me by watching them on film. We’re going to go into the game just focused on what we’re supposed to do and not making those mistakes that we made last season. Hopefully we’ll come out with a win.”

In order to come away with a victory and run their record to 2-0, which would be their best start to a regular season in five years, and their overall winning streak to three, Baldwin pointed to an aspect of the game not measured by statistics.

“We have to be mentally focused,” Baldwin said. “I know it’s our first home game. The fans are excited and our players are excited, but we have to stay focused and we have to execute our play. We have to play Rockdale football. We cannot play Alcovy football, or anyone else’s football. We have to play the way that we know how to play, and that’s fast.”

Sports Editor

A 2017 graduate of the University of North Georgia, Colin joined the Rockdale/Newton Citizen in March of 2018 as the papers' full-time sports editor. A 2013 graduate of Jackson County High School, Colin received a golf scholarship to Andrew College.