Before the 2019 season, it’s very possible that many observers outside Dacula’s football program probably looked at Friday’s game as the perfect tune-up game for the start of the Region 8-AAAAAA portion of the schedule that begins next week.
Not so fast, says head coach Clint Jenkins, whose No. 2 state-ranked (Class AAAAAA) Falcons (4-0) welcome Rockdale County to Barron Field for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff, and with good reason.
The Bulldogs are off to the program’s first 4-0 start to a season since 1987, and have visions of the best season since the 2009 Class AAAA state semifinal run in 2009, and could be a playoff contender in a very deep Region 8-AAAAAAA this season.
They are defiantly a far cry from the term that won just eight games over the previous four seasons, including last year’s 3-7 mark.
“From this year to last year, you can tell they’ve gotten it going in the right direction,” Jenkins said. “They’ve been able to win a couple of close games, so they’ve been tested in that respect. You can tell they’re excited.”
What’s not to be excited about?
Rockdale has, indeed, passed a couple of tests by winning close games over Alcovy (21-14) and Discovery (22-14). In fact, all four of its wins have come by an average of 10.5 points.
While much of the Bulldogs’ success can be attributed to an improved defense that has allowed just 10 points per game and created 10 turnovers in four games, led by defensive captain Cameron Gray, the offense has also gotten Jenkins’ attention.
Junior running back Connor Mack has posted more than 300 yards on the ground, while quarterback Chandler Peters has created plenty of balance.
“They’ve got some good skill kids,” Jenkins said. “They’ve got a couple of (receivers) on the edge who are deep threats and can do some good things in space.”
That combination would already be a challenge for a defense, but Jenkins is particularly concerned given some issues the Falcons dealt with during last week’s 49-28 win at Central Gwinnett.
The Black Knights has rolled up 28 points in nearly three quarters before Dacula was able to come up with stops, led by nine tackles each from T.J. Young and Reggie Icilien, to allow the offense to pull away in the final period.
“We did a lot of silly stuff in the secondary,” Jenkins said. “We spent a lot of time in the film room looking at some things. Now, you’ve got to give Central some credit for that, but we’ve got to improve defensively on the perimeter and in the secondary.
“We’ll see if we’ve got it fixed (Friday). We’re about to start region (8-AAAAAA) play, and we need to start trending in the right direction. The good news (last week) was that our offense was able to answer (Central) time and time again.”
Indeed, the Falcons’ offense appears to be opening well behind the three-headed running back monster of Trenton Jones (61-379, 3 TDs), Kyle Efford (35-268, 5 TDs) and Kaleb Edwards (11-243, 3 TDs) and the passing game led by Jarrett Jenkins (39-69-4, 601 yards, 3 TDs) and receivers Chris Scott (12-229, 1 TD) and Konata Mumpfield (11-183, 2 TDs).