Posted: 11:04 am Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Kell Classic: This year’s teams are sizzling; so is the weather 

By Todd Holcomb

The Corky Kell Classic, an annual event that symbolically kicks off the Georgia high school football season, is in its 23rd year, but it’s safe to say there has never been one like what is scheduled for Friday and Saturday at McEachern.

For the first time, the event is being played over two days with a record 14 teams. Ten of those teams are state-ranked, also an event record. Five of the seven games match ranked opponents. Seven of the Top 10 teams in Class AAAAAA will participate.

All seven games will be televised by Fox Sports South, which will broaden viewership into Alabama, Tennessee and parts of Florida and South Carolina.

But the biggest change in this year’s event — the move to McEachern’s campus stadium in Powder Springs — was not planned. A rare conflict with the Atlanta Falcons’ preseason schedule forced the Kell Classic out of the Georgia Dome. The games will be played at Cantrell Stadium, which seats about 10,000.

A venue change is not unprecedented. In 1997, games were farmed out to McEachern and Brookwood when the Georgia Dome had roof damage.

The new venue presents two special challenges.

One is transportation. With five games on Saturday starting at 8:45 a.m., there will be a revolving door of fan bases that won’t stop moving until the sun goes down. Attendance for the one-day event at the Georgia Dome typically reached 25,000 to 30,000. Event co-founder Dave Hunter said there will be satellite parking, shuttle buses and plenty of signage to help fans find their way.

The other challenge, the big one, according to Hunter, is the heat. The forecast for Friday and Saturday puts temperatures in the mid-90s. Games will be played around the clock on Saturday, so there’s no escaping it.

“All the coaches and myself are concerned about the heat,’’ Hunter said. “We’re taking proactive steps to help with that. We’re talking daily to players about hydrating. We’ll extend halftime or have more timeouts, if necessary. We’ll have cool mist on the sidelines. There will be cooling stations for fans, where they can lie down.’’

Hunter can’t be happier with the teams. The marquee games are probably Saturday’s final two — No. 1 McEachern vs. No. 4 North Gwinnett in a rematch from the 2013 Class AAAAAA semifinals and a rare meeting between No. 9 Norcross, the two-time defending AAAAAA champion, and No. 5 Tucker, the AAAAA runner-up that moved up in class this season.

The other games matching ranked teams are No. 2 Colquitt County vs. No. 6 Mill Creek, No. 5 Carrollton (AAAA) vs. No. 7 Kell (AAAAA) and No. 2 Sandy Creek (AAAA) vs. No. 3 Archer.

“I don’t know that we’ve ever had a better lineup,’’ Hunter said. “You don’t get to play in this game unless you’re established.’’

Schedule:

Friday
6 p.m. — North Paulding vs. Creekview
8:30 p.m. — Archer vs. Sandy Creek
Saturday
9 a.m. — Carrollton vs. Kell
11:45 a.m. — Mill Creek vs. Colquitt County
2:45 p.m. — Brookwood vs. Valdosta
5:30 p.m. — Norcross vs. Tucker
8:45 p.m. — North Gwinnett vs. McEachern

8 comments
Trojanfan15
Trojanfan15

 Worried about Carrollton. I am afraid that the Trojans will not be represented as they have been in years past with a rough and ready program. They are only returning 4-5 starters - have a brand new head coach and coaching staff - brand new offensive scheme - brand few defensive scheme - and zero of the four or five returning starters, much less any of the new players, have any familiarity with the new offense, defense, or coaches. This will be a very rough year for Carrollton. 

rwdekalb
rwdekalb

I heard from a coach at McEachern that it will be a real challenge to find parking. They tried to be prepared but depending on the turnout give yourself plenty of extra time to find a parking spot.

Wildhawg2012
Wildhawg2012

Colquitt County Packers!!!! Lets go Pack!!!

rwdekalb
rwdekalb

The weather forecast is calling extremely hot temperatures, upper 90s. Please be prepared to deal with this heat.

Wildhawg2012
Wildhawg2012

@rwdekalb thks my man but i wont be making this trip. Its my lil man's birthday weekend but i will be watching on the tube every chance i get. I think the Packerbackers are getting a bus together. It would be smart to ride the bus with limited parking huh. Some great games on tap.

Wildhawg2012
Wildhawg2012

@rwdekalb whats up dude. i read an earlier post from u needing an update on the SWD/Carver scrimmage. Carver scored on like the last play for varsity and took the game by a 19-13 score. I left before jv played. The scrimmage was kinda confusing at the end. Carver jumped out 13-0 but SWD scored before the half to make it 13-6.Then for some odd reason half time was the whole 20 min like it was a real half time then they decided to have a running clock for the 3rd. I guess because of the heat but anyway SWD took up a the whole 12 min quarter then scored at the end of it to tie it at 13-13. I thought that varsity was over but i guess since SWD took up the quarter Carver had to get a turn and they drove down and kinda threw a pass that the Rec made an amazing grab on for the win. SWD best play was the QB draw but the TD pass was a real beauty to tie the game. The Rec went on a stop and go route and completely froze to CB and ran past him for the score. The scrimmage was rather boring on both ends. Carver made more plays but never pulled away