Rocky Mount Academy ready for title defense
By PATRICK MASON
Monday, August 6, 2018
Rocky Mount Academy returned to football royalty last season with a state championship. When the Eagles defeated Kinston Parrott Academy in overtime, they halted a chance at three consecutive championships for the Patriots.
Now, the Eagles are heading into their post-championship season with expectations to repeat, and, like most teams, won’t have the same players across the board to make it happen. But, in what turned out to be a interesting scheduling quirk, the Eagles won’t have to wait long to find out how they stack up against a tough team.
RMA and Parrott Academy will play in Rocky Mount to open the season.
“We know that we are the defending champs and we have a target on our back because of it,” Hudgins said. “Last year, Parrott was coming into the game having won two in a row and they were gunning for it. Now I’m sure they’re coming for us. It will be good to get that game out of the way early.”
RMA lost several key pieces from that title team. The offense will look quite different with running back Caleb Lambert gone due to graduation, as well as tight end Trey Smelcer — who will play football at UNC-Charlotte this fall. Smelcer is the first Division I recruit from RMA.
Elsewhere, quarterback Isaiah Thomas is recovering from an injury and hasn’t been able to put on pads. Thomas injured his left knee in the playoffs last season, and isn’t yet cleared to participate in contact drills.
Thomas was a key two-way player for the Eagles, locking down the secondary on defense, as well as using his arm and legs at the quarterback position to gash defenses. The team, and Thomas, expect that he will be on the field at some point this season.
Peyton David is taking reps at quarterback and could start Week 1. David is a senior who has experience playing the position at the JV level, and took a number of snaps last season when Thomas was out.
Jacob Braddy, the offensive spark plug of the state championship game, returns and the thought of him having less competition in the backfield to fight for carries should scare defenses. Braddy is a tough, agile runner who has proved that he doesn’t have a problem creating ways to score against eight-man defenses.
On the defensive side of the ball, the front took a big hit. Gone are defensive stoppers Thomas Griffin, Corbett Cobb and Jarrett Snipes. Hudgins said that while the defense does have returners, finding ways to replace some of the mainstays will be tough.
“We lost a good amount of guys, but we’re not rebuilding,” Hudgins said. “Really, the biggest part for us was getting the new linemen to understand concepts and things like that. Once we get everyone comfortable we’ll be fine.”
Last season: Won the NCISAA 2-A state championship, 66-60 in overtime, over Kinston Parrott Academy
Points for: 559
Points against: 216
201: That’s how many combined points Rocky Mount Academy and Kinston Parrott scored against each other over two games. RMA won both by a combined six points, including a 66-60 overtime win in the state championship game.
2: In Week 2, RMA will travel out of state to Lynchburg, Va. to play Virginia Episcopal School
Key losses: Caleb Lambert, Trey Smelcer, Thomas Griffin, Corbett Cobb, Jarrett Snipes
Key returners: Jacob Braddy, Isaiah Thomas, Chandler Gazaway, Peyton David