The event, which launched in 1992 with two games, will begin Friday, Aug. 22 with two games at McEachern High School’s Walter Cantrell Stadium. The following day, five games will be held at the Georgia Dome.
Dave Hunter, executive director of the event, said the goal is to make the Corky Kell Classic a weekend event before it moves to the Falcons’ new stadium in 2017.
“We are getting the new stadium in 2017,” Hunter said. “We have so many good teams out there. We wanted to expand our brand a little bit and then try to work our way into the new stadium with a weekend instead of just the one-day event. Now, we have seven games instead of five, and 14 teams instead of 10. Of course, the premier games will still be at the Georgia Dome, but this is a way to get more teams involved.”
Creekview will play Friday night at 5:30 p.m. against North Paulding. That game will be followed by Sandy Creek-Archer at 8:30 p.m.
Creekview coach Terry Crowder said it was great to get the invite.
“It’s a great thing for the kids,” he said “It will be a great experience.”
Cherokee County last sent a team to the Corky Kell in 2009, when Etowah completed a two-year run. Cherokee has also participated in years past.
Crowder coached in the event while he was at Chattahoochee and is anxious to lead another group of players against what he knows will be a high-quality opponent.
North Paulding will be coming off an 11-2 season in which it won the Region 5AAAAA title and made the state quarterfinals. The Wolfpack will become a Class AAAAAA program next fall.
“You know you are fixing to play someone pretty good when you get in it, and North Paulding will certainly be a tough test,” said Crowder, whose Grizzlies went 8-3 with a state playoff berth.
The Corky Kell Classic will be a two-year commitment for the Grizzlies, leaving the team to likely play just four home games instead of the usual five. Still, Crowder feels it’s worth the tradeoff.
“We have 16 returning starters, and I feel we have a good chance to be very good next year,” Crowder said. “The kids are going to be extremely excited about this.”
Hunter said Creekview’s inclusion was about the skills of the players as much as that of the coach.
“I know (Creekview has) been good,” Hunter said. “I went up to visit with them a little bit last spring. I think they have a lot of potential. I know coach Crowder and I think he will do a good job. I think they can support the game with their ticket sales. I think it will be a great matchup.”
Playing at McEachern seemed to be a natural extension of the Corky Kell Classic. In fact, the event has twice been held at the Powder Springs school — 1995 and ’97 — in rare trips away from the Georgia Dome.
In addition to having recently upgraded facilities and a videoboard that ranks among the largest for a high school in the country, McEachern’s stadium has an artificial surface that will allow the game to be played even it if rains.
“It’s state-of-the-art over there,” Hunter said. “Jimmy Dorsey is the (athletic director) and he has been a part of the Corky Kell Classic as well, so we just thought it was a great fit. They are good hosts, so we just felt like this was an ideal place.”
The event will continue Saturday with Kell-Carrollton, Mill Creek-McEachern and Valdosta-Brookwood.
The two night games remain fluid based on Tucker’s fate in Friday’s Class AAAAA state championship game. Should Tucker win the title, it would face the winner of the Class AAAAAA championship between Norcross and North Gwinnett. Should Tucker lose, it would play Norcross and North Gwinnett would play Colquitt County.
All of the games on both days will be broadcast on CSS, the regional cable sports channel, and carried on radio at 92.9 FM.