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December 12, 2011
Let's give Georgia credit for getting it right.
While rules and regulations prevent some states from putting good out-of-league schedules together, Georgia always seems to find a way.
And next year, its premier kickoff event, the Corky Kell Classic, is doing it better than ever.
The 2012 version will feature five games for the first time in its 21-year history. It will be an all-day affair at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Aug. 25, but one worth catching as six of the 10 teams involved were ranked in the RivalsHigh 100 at some point this season. "These are five great games," RivalsHigh.com senior analyst Dallas Jackson said. "There is a good chance that seven of these teams will be discussed for the preseason rankings and to have them all on the field at one time is remarkable." "The true beauty of this event is that it challenges itself to get better. It used to be a showcase for Atlanta-metro teams but the additions of Colquitt County and Camden County from South Georgia will increase the national interest."
And with great teams come great players.
The event will kick off at 9 a.m. with a game between Marietta (Ga.) Kell - a school which was named for the legendary county athletic director and coach - and Alpharetta (Ga.) Chattahoochee.
Kell opened this event in 2011 with a 7-0 loss to eventual state champion Loganville (Ga.) Grayson and went on to a state quarterfinals appearance.
Taking the field just before noon will be defending state champion and likely preseason favorite to repeat, Grayson, against Powder Springs (Ga.) McEachern.
Grayson returns a host of players from a team that currently is No. 3 in the RivalsHigh 100, including Robert Nkemdiche, a potential five-star recruit at defensive end, and running back Wayne Gallman.
"With Grayson bringing back nine starters on defense it could get looks for a preseason No. 1 in the RivalsHigh100," Jackson said.
South Georgia's rising power, Moultrie (Ga.) Colquitt County will take on Suwanee (Ga.) North Gwinnett as the keystone game of the event. The two teams played one another in the second round of the playoffs in 2011.
Colquitt will be in its fourth season under legendary coach Rush Probst, meaning all of his players will have known no other system but his. Quarterback Cole Segraves will lead the team.
And closing the event will be Marietta (Ga.) Walton and Snellville (Ga.) Brookwood.
The Georgia Dome may have a tough time closing before midnight, but when it does, Georgia high school fans should have an early indicator of the team's to watch in 2012.
"Seeing so many top schools on the same day - teams such as Grayson, Camden County, Colquitt County and Walton - will be exciting," Jackson said. "It's like having the atmosphere and emotion of the state finals at the beginning of the season, too. It would be great if more states could hold such events."
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