By Todd Bailey
Two things are certain when it comes to time. One, it can heal wounds and secondly, things change. How sweet those words are for the 2018 edition of the Warner Robins Demons. Mike Chastain, in his third year at the helm for the Demons, has gotten his team into the State Championship game for the second year in a row after posting a 3-8 season when taking over the program in 2016. Since then the Demons are 26-3 since. Man does time heal things and man do things change!
The Demons would be playing for a possible repeat in the State Championship game had it not been for a very good Rome team that they ran into last year. And not only that, Coach Chastain will be the first to tell you that his team didn’t play well, which you can’t do against a talented team like Rome fielded.
… turn the page
The Demons have walked onto the field this year with expectation. They have been the better team in all but one game, which was against Colquitt County who is playing for their own state championship in 7A on Wednesday at the Benz. The only other loss on their record was a self reported forfeit to Harris County who the Demons handled with ease on the field. Unfortunately, a player played in too many quarters in a week in a JV game and a Varsity game. It didn’t affect the play on the field or the seeding of this team, only a mere blemish on their record. The Demons had something to prove this year. They tasted the agony of defeat in 2017’s state championship, by getting embarrassed by Rome at the MAC. They went to work methodically and got better and better each week. Some of the areas that they worked hard at improving was the Offensive and Defensive lines, along with the kicking game.
Offensive Coordinator Coach Sams had the Fromm brothers returning along with a few others but had to rely on the growth of the lineman and the emergence of state record holder Marcayll Jones (101rec-1893yds-4td) to set the pace as the rest of the guys followed suit. Tyler was actually sidelined for most of the season with an arm injury and has been an added plus since returning. Dylan (319 com-490 atts-4107 yds-44 tds-9 ints) had set the airways on fire as a Junior and he picked up where he left off for his Senior season (4107 yds, 6th most in a season in Ga history & 147 yds more than his brother, Jake’s yardage, in 2015 at HOCO) and he has had a phenomenal season running the offense. Notice I didn’t just say throwing the football. Dylan is a great leader on the field and has made intelligent decisions on the field of play. Combine that with his arm strength and ability to make a variety of throws, mix in an occasion scramble every now and then and you know why he was the Georgia’s 5A Region 1 Player of the Year in 2017and 2018. But since we are talking passing, Dylan set the single season passing record for the Demon with 3,500yds passing in 2017 and has reset it in 2018 currently setting at 4,100yds plus whatever yards he throws for on Tuesday night and he will add to his career passing yards which is currently at 7600yds plus whatever he adds to it Tuesday night, as well. When it comes to carrying the football, look no further than the dependable Sophomore, Jaylen Rutherford, (159 car-996 yds-0 tds) (he had a long TD called back against Rome) and his counterpart Junior, Deondre Duehart (106 car-730 yds-1 td). Coach Sams puts in a stout Sophomore, Ahmad Walker when he needs a tough yard (18 car-80 yds), borrowing the linebacker from the defensive side of the ball (52 tackles-4 for loss-1 int). When Fromm is not looking to Jones, he will throw to Junior, Ty Carr (57 rec-638 yds-3 tds), Junior, Devin Brown (33 rec-467 yds-1 td), Sophomore, Jalen Addie (28 rec-328 yds-2 tds) and occasionally he’ll hit Rutherford out of the backfield (45 rec-342 yds). He has a plethora of targets in the receiving corp.
Coach Westbrook has the defense playing really well and they have stifled their opponents in the playoffs. One of the most talented backs in Georgia, Rome running back, Jamious Griffin, the 2018 Georgia Gatorade Player of the Year, gained 153 yds giving him 2815 yds for the year. He averaged over 200yds a game rushing as a senior for the Wolves. After the Wolves tied the Demons late in the game at 28 each, the defense shutout Rome the rest of the way and the Demons scored the final 17 points of the game. The defense’s leading tackler is Sophomore MLB, Demarcus Robinson (120 tackles-8 for loss-2 sacks) and Junior CB, Jatavious Bryant (6 tackles) who leads the team with 4 of the 14 team interceptions. Junior MLB, Malichi Weatherspoon totes a heavy load as the second leading tackler (95 tackles-4 for loss-2 sacks and 1 int). The Demons have really grown in the defensive line play led by Senior DE, Caleb Thomas (65 tackles-8 for loss-5.5 sacks), Senior DT, Chris Carson (34 tackles-3 for loss-2.5 sacks) and Sophomore DT, Javar Jordan (25 tackles)
The most improved area of the Demons from the beginning of the year to the championship has been the play of the Special Teams, especially the kicking game. The Demons found themselves having kicks blocked early on and it seemed as if it was almost a hope and a prayer every time the Demons needed a Field Goal, extra point or a punt early in the season. Samarly Howard has to be the most improved Demon of the year. His kicking has steadily improved all year and he hit the biggest Field Goal (4 of 7 on the year, 34 long) of his life last week as he gave the Demons a 38-28 lead over the Rome Wolves late in the game, which made it a two score game and put them up against the wall.
In the previous meeting on October 19th, Deondre Duehart rushed for 105 yards against Bainbridge. Dylan Fromm was 20-of-31 passing for 228 yards and three touchdowns. Devin Brown had six receptions for 87 yards and two touchdowns. Jatavious Bryant had two interceptions and returned one for a touchdown. As hungry as the Demons were for another shot at Rome, Bainbridge is as hungry for another shot at the Demons. Heck, the Bearcats are playing their best football of the season. The last time that the Bearcats played against the Demons a devastating hurricane, Michael, had just passed through Georgia. They still had players without electricity and they have been playing great ball ever since. They knocked off 4 very good football teams to get to the Championship, Jones County, Wayne County, Buford (broke Buford’s streak of reaching the semifinals in 11 straight years) and Stockbridge. They have won 6 straight since that meeting and Sophomore QB Quade Hawkins is averaging 171yds passing per game, during that time. He only had 1 previous 100yd game prior to that. Also, the Sophomore RB, Caleb McDowell has rushed for more than 100yds per game during that streak too. Expect the Tennessee DE commit Roman Harrison, region 1’s Defensive Player of the Year, to work to disrupt Dylan Fromm and the Warner Robins offense.
The Demons have the talent, have the opportunity and on paper should win it all! The Demons have to challenge themselves because since 2015 4 out of 5 rematch games in the state championships have gone to the loser of the first game. In 2008, Tucker lost to Marist 38-0 in the regular season and Tucker won the state championship over Marist 15-3. The Demons need to start fast and play with intensity as Bainbridge is playing their best ball of the year!
Stopping the 40 game winning streak of Rome last week was HUGE, but it would be topped by the Demons going to the Benz and bringing home that 5th state championship to Warner Robins! FORKS UP!!
On Sportmic.com on your Tablet, Iphone, Droid
4:00 SunMark Community Bank pre-game show
4:30 Kickoff Mercedes Benz Dome
(Voice of the Demons Coach Tom Mobley, with Color Commentator Coach Kevin Wall)