For the second year in a row, it will be county against county in the Metro PCS Corky Kell Classic. In fact, the same eight power programs from last year’s Classic will take part in this year’s event as well. Only one rematch is on the docket, however, as Grayson and Kell butt heads in the opening game.
HUMBLE BEGINNINGS …
The Classic began in 1992 when Brookwood and McEachern got together in the first football game ever played in the Georgia Dome. The two teams kicked it off before the Falcons or any college teams hit the field in the new stadium. Both teams have taken part in every one of the Classics.
“This is the 20th anniversary of the game and we’ve been in it every time,” said Brookwood coach Mark Crews. “I don’t think it ever gets to be a stale place to play. It’s always an exciting place for us to play. It’s been an honor for us to be in there for the past 20 years.”
Last year was the first county vs. county showdown, as Cobb and Gwinnett went head-to-head in downtown Atlanta. Gwinnett won three of the games, as Kell was the lone winner for Cobb.
Players and coaches love opening at the Dome, as it is easy to stay motivated over the long, hot summer with the Kell Classic waiting at the end of the tunnel.
“It’s a great opening venue for a high school kid to get a chance to play his opening game in the Georgia Dome, particularly if you’re a senior,” said North Gwinnett coach Bob Sphire.
The event is by invitation, as only select programs from the state are considered to open their seasons in the Dome. But it means even more for one particular school.
“It’s a great honor to play in this particular event, seeing as how it’s in honor of the same man that our school is named after,” said Kell coach Derek Cook. “It’s great for the Kell family, it’s great for Kell High School.”
While the Classic has been a boon for attendance in the stadium, fans from around the state have not had the opportunity to watch the games live until now. This year, Georgia Public Broadcasting is televising the event for viewers in the entire state to see. It’s the first time the Classic has been televised.
“For 20 years now, the Metro PCS Corky Kell has been the official kickoff of the football season,” said GPB Sports Director and Score Atlanta President/Founder I.J. Rosenberg. “It is a tremendous day with eight of the best schools in the state involved, and for the first time we will be putting them on statewide television. We feel with the games going on TV and the new relationship between GPB Sports and the Metro PCS Corky Kell Classic, these games will become one of the premier high school events in the country.”
COUNTY PRIDE …
While each team today will first and foremost be playing for themselves, they will keep an eye on the other games in the Classic and pull for their county brethren to do them proud.
“We certainly root for the Cobb County teams,” said Lassiter coach Jep Irwin. “When Kell won last year, that was great. We want to do our share for Cobb County. We’re mostly focused on our game, but after our game is over, we certainly root for the Cobb teams.”
Gwinnett has a unique situation in Class AAAAA, as two regions are full of just Gwinnett County schools. While the programs are at each others’ throats in region play, they respect each other a great deal.
“We work our butts off to beat each other but outside of our county, we take a lot of pride in representing our county and league well,” said Crews. “It’s a pretty good matchup with Gwinnett and Cobb in the Corky Kell games because we take a lot of pride in our football and they do too.”
But despite the on-field battles, the most impressive part of the Classic may be charity: the event has raised more than $60,000 for the Corky Kell Scholarship Fund.