Because for the two schools making the jump from AAAA to AAAAAA, week one not only provides a chance to prove themselves as a member of Georgia’s largest classification but gives both schools a televised audience to display their skills in front of.
“It’s great for your program anytime you are getting invited to play in these games,” said Chattahoochee coach Terry Crowder, who led his team to a 10-2 record and trip to the second round of the state playoffs last fall. “It’s exciting for our kids playing now and also exciting for those in our junior program to know they have a chance to play in the Georgia Dome one day.”
Crowder’s team was selected as one of ten schools to play in the Corky Kell Classic — an event held annually at the Georgia Dome as the GHSA’s unofficial kickoff to the new season — for the next two seasons. The Cougars will be the opening act in the five-game marathon this Saturday, scheduled for a 9 a.m. kickoff against Kell High School.
Both ‘Hooch and Kell are making their third appearance in the Kickoff Classic, with Chattahoochee taking part in the event for the first time since 2005 when they lost to eventual state runner-up Parkview 28-0. Kell, who lost in the dome to AAAAA state champion Grayson 7-0 last year, is making their third straight August appearance in Atlanta.
“We know they are very talented and always play really great defense,” Crowder said of Kell, a second round state playoff team in their own right last season. “They say you make your most improvement from week one to week two, but we’ve been pushing the kids really hard and we’re planning on having everything ready to go for game one this year.”
Johns Creek will get their season started two days earlier at Woodstock, a 5AAAAAA team that went 4-6 last season. The Gladiators, who went 9-2 and made the state playoffs in 2011, and Wolverines will be featured in the first of 12 Thursday night games to be broadcast by WSB-TV and their affiliate stations.
“It’s the first game of the year for anyone in the state and that should be exciting for everyone at Johns Creek,” said Gladiator coach Mike Cloy. “It’s a little different playing this early and on TV, but it’s a great opportunity and we’re going to make the most of it.”