Grayson and Kell provided the most exciting game in last year’s Classic – a 13-10 Longhorn win – and the two teams will take another shot at each other today.
“I don’t know that Grayson knew who Kell was last year, and maybe a lot of people didn’t,” said Kell head coach Derek Cook. “We’re kind of a newer school and they’ve had some deeper playoff runs than we have. They’re a great football program and we’re trying to become that.”
After the season-opening upset last year, Kell rattled off 11 more victories before losing to Statesboro in the Class AAAA quarterfinals. The Longhorns bring a 16-game regular season winning streak into today, but have to replace some important pieces from last year’s team if they want to duplicate that success. Gone is the dynamic backfield combination of running back Brian Randolph and quarterback Austin Petrik, and their production will be hard to replace.
Despite losing the 2010 opener, Grayson advanced further in the playoffs than Kell, losing to Colquitt County in the semifinals. The Rams return perhaps their most athletic player from last year’s team in defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche. Still only a junior, Nkemdiche is projected to be one of the top recruits in the nation in 2013 after recording 18 sacks as a sophomore.