Rex Mill Middle School coach Rodney Screen conducts his postgame talk with his players after the team defeated Riverdale 38-0 on Tuesday in the middle school playoffs at Tara Stadium.
JONESBORO — The Rex Mill Middle School Yellow Jackets are one step closer to claiming a Clayton County Middle School championship after shutting out Riverdale Middle 38-0 Tuesday night at Tara Stadium.
Coach Rodney Screen said the dominating performance was just another example of the type of team effort he’s enjoyed all season from his undefeated squad.
“Pretty much, we’ve been rolling like this all year long,” said Screen, who is in his first season as head coach. He replaced Ervin Starr after he took the head job at Mount Zion High School.
“We’ve got a great bunch of kids, returning players and battle tested young guys and they have really bought into the program here.”
Rex Mill came in as the No. 1 seed in the tournament and played like it throughout. After stalling on its first offensive drive, Rex Mill’s Kazaiah Hall scored the first of his three first half rushing touchdowns on a three yard run to put Rex Mill up 6-0 early in the first quarter.
Hall added touchdown runs of 19 and 10 yards and the stingy Yellow Jacket defense gang tackled Rex Mill’s quarterback in the endzone for safety to give Rex Mill a 22-0 advantage at halftime.
Hassan Littles would add scoring jaunts of 10 and 20 yards to help Rex Mill cruise to victory.
Screen was happy with the victory, saying that it brought them one game closer to their championship goal. But he seemed more excited about the way his players are taking seriously their privilege to play football and prepare for high school.
Screen said that in the same way high schools are starting to prepare its players like college football programs, middle school programs are beginning to mimic the high school way.
The seventh and eighth graders at Rex Mill began doing conditioning in June, Screen said.
And around the same time neighboring schools like Mount Zion and Jonesboro were traveling the south for 7-on-7 passing league tournaments, the junior high kids were thriving in their own local passing leagues.
Screen said thirty of his 42 kids regularly participated in the offseason workouts. He said that the extra work is vital to the kids’ development -- especially as Rex Middle seeks to filter its graduating talent to high schools like Mount Zion.
“We most definitely see ourselves as a feeder program,” said Screen who served as offensive coordinator last year on Starr’s last Rex Middle team.
“It is essential what we do during the offseason with offensive and defensive schemes. We work with Coach Starr and Mount Zion at implementing those things so the kids can already be plugged in when they get there.”
Screen he expects several of Rex Mill’s standout eighth graders to reunite with Starr at Mount Zion next year.
But first thing’s first. And that is Rex Mill’s pursuit of a county title.
They will play M.D. Roberts in the semifinal round next Tuesday at Twelve Oaks Stadium in Hampton.