In the run-up to Friday night's AAAAA high school state championship football game, an electronic sign in front of the hospital here has flashed a not-so-subtle message that, for the week at least, declares the town Demon Country.
The message, in a poke at the visiting denizens from up Floyd County way, comes replete with a flaming background and the words: “The Fall of Rome.“
The game, which pits Warner Robins High against the Wolves of Rome High, had been set for Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta last week until wintry weather postponed it. The game was rescheduled for Friday night, and thanks to a coin toss that decided the venue, the site is the Demons' home field, McConnell-Talbert Stadium.
Earlier this week on a Rome radio station, Glenn White, who is president of the Georgia High School Association's board of trustees and who lives in Rome, made some seemingly not-so-impartial remarks about the game site that have not gone over so well with folks here, be they Demon fans or not.
Though he is not a game official and for the most part has little oversight of Friday night's game, White spoke, among other things, of the heads-or-tails coin toss that led to the game being staged in Warner Robins instead of Rome: “I wish Rome had won the toss. ... We're gonna be in a situation where I don't think Warner Robins is gonna be able to handle the crowd.”
White, noting that he is rooting for Rome, added: "I think (the Wolves) beat 'em no matter where they play.”
The comments didn't sit well in Warner Robins, a football hotbed that has hosted its share of state-title tilts dating back to the middle 1970s. “The Mac,” as the stadium here is affectionately known, is the home field for the Demons and their crosstown rival Northside Eagles.
Scot Ethridge, president of the Warner Robins Touchdown Club, which backs the Demons, said Wednesday that he had heard White's remarks.
Ethridge said Warner Robins High and the local school board are more than equipped to handle a crowd upwards of 15,000 spectators, should that many show up.
“I think (White) needs to realize he's got a position (with the GHSA). ... He ought to keep his personal comments to himself,” Ethridge told The Telegraph.
“If you're afraid to come strap it on in the Mac, just say you're afraid to come strap it on in the Mac. You got 48 minutes of Demon Country coming your way.”