By Craig Sager
The 2018 MetroPCS Corky Kell Classic added two new sites and a brand new lineup to celebrate its 27th year as Georgia high school football’s ever-growing kickoff extravaganza. A total of nine games will be played over the span of three days at three separate locations, starting with a doubleheader at Rome’s Barron Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 16, followed Friday at Georgia State Stadium and Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday.
The city of Rome is picking up where Macon left off after Mercer University’s Five Star Stadium hosted the event’s previous two Thursday night doubleheaders.
“We are so thankful for Mercer, Five-Star Stadium and the Macon community for being wonderful hosts these past two years,” said Dave Hunter, the Executive Director of the Classic. “The city of Rome and Floyd County were very determined to bring the Corky Kell to their backyard and we are thrilled for this opportunity.”
The doubleheader opens with Class AAAA Ridgeland and Class AAA Calhoun at 5:30 p.m. and is followed by another intriguing cross-classification opener between Class AAAAAAA Marietta and AAAAA Rome at 8:45 pm. Both Shorter University and Rome High School call the newly renovated Barron Stadium home, so the Wolves will have home-field advantage as they take on the Blue Devils.
“The Corky Kell is one of the, if not the biggest and most competitive opening weeks of high school football in the country,” said Rome head coach John Reid. “This would never have been possible without the help of Rome City Schools and our tremendous support staff and fans. … To be chosen as a host site along with other venues like the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Turner Field, the Georgia Dome and Mercer University says a great deal for the City of Rome and its great football tradition.”
Added Sammy Rich, Rome City Manager, “Our community will roll out the red carpet for the teams and fans with all that Rome has to offer.”
Rome City Schools superintendent Lou Byars said, “To be selected is a testament to the hard work of Coach John Reid, his staff and the entire community that has worked so hard to bring the event to Rome.”
Georgia State Stadium will host its second year of MetroPCS Corky Kell Classic action on Friday, Aug. 17 with a star-powered pair of games. Buford and Tucker will meet on the gridiron for the first time since 1955 in the 5:30 p.m. opener and Archer and Milton will play for the first time ever in the 8:30 nightcap.
This sets up a five-game marathon at the state-of-the-art Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 18, to close the 27th edition of the Classic.
Kell and East Coweta open up Saturday with a 9 a.m. kickoff and North Gwinnett takes on Brookwood at 11:45. The Broncos make their 27th appearance in the classic with the event’s other inaugural participant McEachern, which will face Colquitt County at 2:45 p.m. With South Georgia represented by the Packers, Mill Creek and Walton bring the spotlight back to Metro Atlanta football with a Gwinnett County vs. Cobb County clash at 5:45.
In the final game, Norcross takes on Mays at 8:45 p.m. This will be the first time that the schools have met on the gridiron and Mays will be making history as the Atlanta Public School system’s first-ever team in the MetroPCS Corky Kell Classic.
“I get goosebumps when I think about that matchup,” said Atlanta Public Schools Athletic Director Jasper Jewell.” A lot of these kids don’t get the opportunity to step foot inside of Mercedes-Benz Stadium. So for us, it’s something that will present us with memories that will last a lifetime. It gives our district an opportunity to showcase our many, many talents and to let people know that we belong in this stadium and we belong on this stage with all these great teams.”
These will be the first football games played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium after January’s College Football National Championship and will also be the opening games to a historic 2018 football season that culminates in the same venue with the GHSA High School State Championships and the Super Bowl.
All games will be televised on the WXIA network of stations on Channel 36 (WATL), and the NFHS Network will provide the digital broadcast. Sports Radio 92.9 The Game, the No. 1 sports talk station in Atlanta and largest sports radio audience in the Southeast, has done the games for the last five years and a deal between the Classic and the station is expected. Live game-day stats and event information will be posted on CorkyKellClassic.com.
The Classic activities will begin on with a 7-On-7 Tournament in June at Roswell Area Park and the game week activities will begin Wednesday, Aug. 15, with a lunch at the Atlanta Northwest Marriott, where each team’s head coach and one of their top players will be on hand to meet with the media.
For more information on the Classic, go to CorkyKell.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Score Atlanta at 404-256-1572.
2018 MetroPCS Corky Kell Schedule
Thursday, Aug. 16 at ROME’s BARRON STADIUM
5:30 p.m. Ridgeland vs. Calhoun
8:30 p.m. Rome vs. Marietta
Friday, Aug. 17, at GEORGIA STATE STADIUM
5:30 p.m. Buford vs. Tucker
8:30 p.m. Archer vs. Milton
Saturday, Aug. 18, at MERCEDES-BENZ STADIUM
9 a.m. Kell vs. East Coweta
11:45 a.m. Brookwood vs. North Gwinnett
2:45 p.m. McEachern vs. Colquitt County
5:45 p.m. Mill Creek vs. Walton
8:45 p.m. Norcross vs. Mays