Adam Anderson is not just the best player on Georgia’s best team, although that would be high praise in itself.
Rome finished 15-0 and beat its Class AAAAA playoff opponents by an average of 46.2 points.
That’s the most dominant playoff run during five rounds in state history. Rome defeated previously undefeated Warner Robins 38-0 in the championship game. Anderson contributed two sacks and forced a fumble.
MaxPreps’ Freeman Rankings then placed Rome at No. 22 nationally. The computer Maxwell Ratings also rated Rome as Georgia’s best team in any classification.
Anderson, a defensive end, is one of several major Division I prospects on Rome’s roster. As the consensus No. 25 prospect nationally, he is the most highly sought player among them.
Rome’s closest game came in the opener against Harrison. It pitted five-star prospects and future college teammates against each other. Anderson and Harrison quarterback Justin Fields signed with Georgia last week.
Rome won 33-21, and Anderson had two sacks and forced one Fields fumble that was returned 32 yards for a touchdown.
“The whole front four was scary," Harrison coach Matt Dickmann said, “but Anderson is definitely a special player. Watching him and Justin against each other was exciting to see. There were a couple of times in the second half when Rome needed it where [Anderson] just dialed it up."
Dickmann often dedicated a fullback to help block Anderson coming off the edge, and he called on Fields, the state’s most elusive quarterback, to get rid of the ball quickly.
“He uses different moves,’’ Dickmann said of Anderson. “He might go inside. He might go outside. He uses his long arms to get separation. Everybody is looking for that size in a defensive end, but it’s hard to find them with that speed.’’
After Harrison, no team came within 21 points of beating Rome, and 12 games were put to a mercy-rule running clock. Anderson sat out the fourth quarter in those blowouts or several entire second halves. He had just enough time for 15 sacks and 35 tackles for losses.
Rome coach John Reid assessed Anderson’s game, starting with his ability to read plays, then provided a list.
“Natural football sense,’’ Reid said. “Great vision. Six-foot-5 and very long. Very, very strong for the length of his arms. Speed and quickness. Tremendous emotional leader and leader in general. Energy at practice and the ability to play hurt. Never complains.’’
Anderson power cleans 300 pounds and benches more than 300 pounds. He squats 450. He was a member of the school’s 400-meter relay team that won the region last spring. He was in the top four in the region in the high jump, shot put and discus.
Anderson also rejoined the basketball team last week. He can touch six inches above the square on the backboard.
But he’s more than an athlete. His life’s story is fascinating, too. Anderson was close to an older sister who passed away during the end of Anderson’s sophomore year. He keeps a picture of her in his locker for inspiration.
Anderson has been known to walk four miles to church when he didn’t have a ride. He worked last summer to pay for the phone bill and buy hearing aids for his younger brother, who is deaf. Anderson has a 300-world sign-language vocabulary.
“His character is very high," Reid said. “Adam is one of the best citizens in our school. He’s not just a football player."