©Dale Zanine 2019_07_26 00648.JPG

Rockdale County’s Jaionte McMillan will start at running back for the Bulldogs against Eagle’s Landing on Friday.

CONYERS -- Week 1 victories for Rockdale County since 2013 have come frequently for the Bulldogs.

However, their streak of five consecutive season-opener victories from 2013-17 was snapped last season with a disappointing home loss to Eagle’s Landing in head coach Jamie Baldwin’s first game at the helm.

On Friday, the Bulldogs will look to exact revenge on the Golden Eagles, a team that will feature several new faces on their option attack offense. Eagle’s Landing starting quarterback Andre Rentas has transferred out-of-state, but Baldwin is still impressed with what he has seen on film thus far.

“On film, (Eagle’s Landing) looks good,” Baldwin said. “Their quarterback is fast and they’ve got a good backfield. They look fundamentally sound on both sides of the ball. We’re going to prepare for them as if they were ranked No.1 in the state.”

The Golden Eagles have tabbed Jeremy Adams as their 2019 starting quarterback. Prior to 2019, Adams spent his time at wide receiver, but has since taken over as Eagle’s Landing’s signal caller on offense.

While the seniors possesses the ability to pass the ball effectively, it is his running capabilities that has Baldwin game planning to stop him.

“(Adams) likes to run,” Baldwin said. “He very seldom likes to pitch the ball when he’s running his veer option. He’s going to have to be a guy that we focus on a lot during the game. We just have to do a better job making open field tackles defensively against their skill guys.”

Playing fundamentally sound football against Eagle’s Landing’s option style offense will prove key in the Bulldogs coming away with a victory on Friday night.

“We’re going to see the option, the zone read, the veer,” Baldwin said. “Defensively, we’re going to see an odd man front. In coverage, they will run several different things and that’s what all of us prepare for these days. We work on these things constantly, every single day.”

The Bulldogs will also feature a first-year starter at quarterback in senior Chandler Peters. At running back, the Bulldogs will use trio consisting of Jaionte McMillan, Connor Mack and Keaz Sellers.

In the Bulldogs’ final tune-up against Mundy’s Mill last Friday, it was McMillan’s 61-yard touchdown run that highlighted their offensive performance.

“It was great to see (Jaionte) be explosive,” Baldwin said. “Jaionte’s run is just a validation as to why we encourage our skill guys to run track. All three of our backs including Conner and Keaz bring so many dynamics to the backfield. It will be hard to defenses to try to target on them because they’re all used a lot.”

After scoring two first-half touchdowns against Mundy’s Mill and holding their offense in check for most of the game, Baldwin was pleased with what he saw out of both offensive and defensive units.

“Going into the scrimmage game, we wanted to see certain things as far as the offense and defense was concerned,” Baldwin said. “For the most part, I thought we were fundamentally sound on both sides of the ball. There are still some things that we need to work on personnel wise and some small fundamental things such as open field tackling and executing the play according to the script.”

For the most part, I was pleased. Even with my ninth graders going in, we played a complete four quarters and that’s one of our main goals this year is to play four complete quarters in a game.”

Eager to take their hard work from the offseason on into the 2019 regular season, Baldwin said his excitement for his players is at an all-time high since his arrival at Rockdale County.

““I’m not necessarily excited for myself because this is more about them,” Baldwin said. “They’ve worked hard in the offseason and I’m excited for them to display everything they have accomplished since last season.”

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.