Not only that, but the game will be played at McEachern’s Walter Cantrell Stadium, in front of a crowd that could be larger than any of the Grizzlies have played in front of before.
The Corky Kell Classic temporarily shifted from the Georgia Dome, due to a scheduling conflict with the Atlanta Falcons. Creekview is the third Cherokee County team to play in the Classic, following Cherokee (2006-07) and Etowah (2008-09).
The game will also present Creekview in front of one its largest audiences, with all seven Classic games being broadcast across the Southeast by Fox SportsSouth.
“The whole school is a buzz,” Creekview coach Terry Crowder said. “We’ve got three big buses of kids going down, and our junior program is involved in it, so I’m expecting a big crowd on our behalf.
“I can’t wait for the kids to experience it. Walter Cantrell Stadium is awesome — probably, the best high school stadium in the state. That atmosphere is going to be really great.”
The 6 p.m. kickoff will also be a bit of a change for Creekview, which will leave school early and change its pregame meal time in order to start the game an hour-and-a-half earlier than it would on a typical Friday night. Crowder said the heat is his biggest concern — the forecast is for 90 degrees at kickoff, with the heat index nearing triple digits — but even that has been alleviated a bit, because the players are healthy, and he should be able to give players breaks when they need it.
“We feel fortunate to have everybody good to go coming out of two scrimmages,” Crowder said.
North Paulding played its way into the Class AAAAA state quarterfinals a season ago, but the school has since moved up to Class AAAAAA.
In order to prepare to face the Wolfpack, Crowder had his team play a pair of scrimmages against two Class AAAAAA programs, Lambert and Cherokee. Crowder said his team learned some important lessons along the way, and his decision to have two scrimmages “has paid off 100 percent.”
“I feel like we are going to be in pretty good shape,” he said. “We have had two games to evaluate, and we have tried to get things fixed. I’m 100-percent glad I did it.”
By playing Class AAAAAA schools in the scrimmages, Crowder said his players faced a faster tempo of play.
“I tried to do everything I could to get ready to play this team,” he said. “North Paulding is very good, so we are going to have to play well and compete and get after them the best we can.”
North Paulding and Creekview run similar offenses, right down to the junior quarterbacks named Kyle with strong arms. While Creekview will look to Kyle Wilkie to make a statement in his second season as the starter, North Paulding will look to Kyle Banks.
The Wolfpack also have a solid running back in D.J. Owens, and a solid corps of receivers led by Dylan Martin.
“Offensively, they are very good,” Crowder said. “They are almost exactly like us, except bigger. Our defense will have to work really hard.”
The key will be for Creekview to control the ball and limit the number of times North Paulding gets the ball. That means the Grizzlies not only need to get things done on offense, but they have to be solid in the kicking game and not turn the ball over.
“I told me kids (Thursday), ‘You deserve it. You have earned the right to play here,’” Crowder said. “I can’t wait to get started.”