North Gwinnett’s Caleb Scott hauls in a touchdown pass over Camden County defenders Marcus Jordan (16) and Ryan Johnson (5) during the first half of Saturday’s game in the Corky Kell Classic at the Georgia Dome. (Staff Photo: Jason Braverman)
The newly expanded Corky Kell Classic format was finalized Wednesday, giving a slight overhaul to the annual kickoff to the Georgia high school football season.
The event, which began in 1992, will feature seven games and 14 teams over two days Aug. 22 and 23. The first day will involve a pair of games at McEachern, followed by five games Aug. 23 at the Georgia Dome, its typical home. No previous Corky Kell has included more than five games.
Two Gwinnett newcomers are in this year’s field, Archer and Mill Creek. Norcross also returns — it played in the 2008 and 2009 Corky Kell Classics — along with Brookwood and North Gwinnett.
“It’s probably the best lineup we’ve ever had competitively,” event co-creator and organizer Dave Hunter said. “Seven of those (14) teams we have were semifinalists this season. I’m really excited about it. It’s going to be a great weekend of high school football.”
Archer plays in the 8:30 p.m. game Friday, Aug. 22 at McEachern against Sandy Creek. That game will follow a 5:30 p.m. game between North Paulding and Creekview.
Five games will follow at the Dome Saturday, Aug. 23, the final four featuring Gwinnett teams after an 8:45 a.m. Kell-Carrollton matchup.
Mill Creek’s first game in the Dome will be at 11:45 a.m. against annual participant McEachern. Brookwood then takes on Valdosta at 2:45 p.m.
The last two games are currently set with North Gwinnett vs. Colquitt County at 5:30 p.m. and Norcross vs. Tucker at 8:45 p.m. Hunter said those matchups could switch if Tucker wins the Class AAAAA state title this weekend. If that happens, Tucker will face the AAAAAA state champion (the Norcross-North winner) and Colquitt County will play the AAAAAA runner-up.
“If we don’t have all the best large schools in Georgia, we’ve got most of them,” Hunter said.
A few other options were considered for this year’s games, including the addition of out-of-state teams. But syncing up their schedules with Georgia isn’t easy, so those talks never got too far.
Perennial power Buford also was considered for the event, which will be broadcast live on TV by CSS and on radio by 92.9 FM/The Game.
“Buford was involved in the discussion,” Hunter said. “We talked with (Buford head coach) Jess (Simpson). It just didn’t work out.”
The Corky Kell expects to play future events in the Dome before eventually transitioning into the new Atlanta Falcons stadium when it is completed in 2017.
“We hope to get into the new stadium if we can work it out financially,” Hunter said.
2014 CORKY KELL CLASSIC
When: Aug. 22-23
Where: McEachern, Georgia Dome
TV/Radio: CSS/92.9 FM
Friday, Aug. 22
5:30 p.m. — North Paulding vs. Creekview
8:30 p.m. — Archer vs. Sandy Creek
Saturday, Aug. 23
At the Georgia Dome
8:45 a.m. — Kell vs. Carrollton
11:45 a.m. — Mill Creek vs. McEachern
2:45 p.m. — Brookwood vs. Valdosta
5:30 p.m. — North Gwinnett vs. Colquitt County*
8:30 p.m. — Norcross vs. Tucker*
- Pending the outcome of Tucker’s Class AAAAA state title game this weekend — Tucker will face the AAAAAA state champion if it wins AAAAA