Though the venue remains in question, the matchups have been set for the 2017 Corky Kell Classic, the 26th edition of the annual high school football showcase.
Six Gwinnett teams — Archer, Brookwood, Buford, Mill Creek, Norcross and North Gwinnett — are in the event, which hopes to be played at Atlanta’s new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in August, 2017. A decision on whether the brand-new stadium, which will house the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and Major League Soccer’s Atlanta United, will be free for the high school football games likely won’t be made until May, according to Corky Kell executive director Dave Hunter.
In the meantime, Hunter is meeting with multiple Georgia colleges about hosting the Friday, Aug. 18 and Saturday, Aug. 19 games. The Thursday, Aug. 17 Corky Kell games will be played at Mercer University in Macon regardless of the Atlanta stadium’s availability.
“Right now, the official word is we’re not going to play (in Mercedes-Benz Stadium) right now,” Hunter said. “However, we’re still hoping that changes and they get finished (with construction) in a reasonable time. … The construction schedule is a concern and they’ve got several other things going on with grand opening, with the soccer team. When we were a legacy event moving from the Georgia Dome to the new stadium, soccer was not in the mix. That obviously changes that a little bit. (The soccer team’s) backed up having to play at (Georgia) Tech earlier in their season. So the earlier the new stadium opens, the better it is for us.”
Gwinnett will be involved in four of the five Saturday games in the 2017 schedule, beginning with Archer vs. Brookwood at 11:45 a.m. — the day’s second game after a 9 a.m. Kell vs. Tucker opener. The 2:45 p.m. game pits Norcross against Colquitt County, followed by Mill Creek vs. McEachern at 5:45 p.m. and North Gwinnett vs. Walton at 8:45 p.m.
Buford plays the nightcap Friday at 8:30 against Hillgrove, which follows a 5:30 p.m. Roswell-South Forsyth game. Friday’s two games at Mercer are Lee County-Mary Persons and Houston County-Jones County.
“We think we’ve got some very competitive matchups,” Hunter said.
Founded in 1992, the Corky Kell has been played predominantly at the Georgia Dome. It was forced to leave the Atlanta venue for scheduling reasons only in 1995 (held at McEachern), 1997 (Brookwood and McEachern) and 2014 (McEachern).
“Probably some time the first of May, we would have to make a decision (on whether to play at Mercedes-Benz Stadium) and I’m sure (stadium officials) would as well,” Hunter said. “We all agree some time along that way (is the right time). … It would be a treat to play (in Mercedes-Benz Stadium), that’s for sure.”
What: 26th annual Corky Kell Classic
When: Aug. 17-19, 2017
Where: Mercer University, Macon and TBA
Thursday, Aug. 17
5:30 p.m. — Lee County vs. Mary Persons
8:30 p.m. — Houston County vs. Jones County
Friday, Aug. 18
5:30 p.m. — Roswell vs. South Forsyth
8:30 p.m. — Buford vs. Hillgrove
Saturday, Aug. 19
9 a.m. — Kell vs. Tucker
11:45 a.m. — Archer vs. Brookwood
2:45 p.m. — Norcross vs. Colquitt County
5:45 p.m. — Mill Creek vs. McEachern
8:45 p.m. — North Gwinnett vs. Walton