Prep Zone

Atlanta high school sports news from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Corky Kell loses spot in Georgia Dome, moves to McEachern; new matchups for Colquitt County, North Gwinnett, McEachern, Mill Creek

The Corky Kell Classic, the annual day of games that symbolize the kick off of Georgia’s high school football season, won’t be played at the Georgia Dome this year because of a rare conflict with a Falcons preseason game.

The five games scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 23, will be played at McEachern’s Cantrell Stadium, which holds 13,000. The Kell Classic had been expanded by two games that already were planned at McEachern on the Friday night before.

The change also entails different opening-game opponents for Colquitt County, Mill Creek, North Gwinnett and McEachern. Colquitt now will play Mill Creek instead of North Gwinnett, and McEachern now will play North Gwinnett instead of Mill Creek. (See schedule below.)

The Falcons have first choice on the Dome if they have a preseason game scheduled for the same date. The Falcons typically play on a Friday or even a Thursday to avoid that conflict, and that was the original plan this season.

But the Falcons’ opponent for the week before, the Texans, decided to move their game in Houston to Saturday, Aug. 16. The Falcons use their third preseason game as a dress rehearsal for the regular season and want the full seven days to prepare, which  forced them to take the Aug. 23 slot to meet the Tennessee Titans.

Kell Classic co-founder and organizer Jimmy Dorsey said that is the first conflict of its kind since the Kell Classic was first played at the Dome in 1992.

‘’The Falcons have always been so gracious to avoid Saturday,’’ Dorsey said. “There’s no NFL coach more sensitive to high school football than Mike Smith, but we understand his dilemma. It was a conundrum for everybody and no good way out.’’

The Kell Classic has been played outside the Georgia Dome twice before.

In 1995, a tropical storm caused roof damage two days before the three scheduled games. They were moved to McEachern. In 1997, McEachern and Brookwood staged two games apiece when the Dome suffered fire damage to some suites.

‘’Fortunately, we’ve got a place like McEachern to host it,’’ said Dorsey, McEachern’s athletics director. ‘’It won’t be 73 degrees and no chance of rain. That’s the biggest difference. Our biggest thing will be constant coming and going of fans and buses. We’ll work hard and get that organized. We’ll be fine.

According to Dorsey, attendance for the Kell Classic is typically between 25,000 and 30,000 with no more than 10,000 for any one game.

Original schedule:

Aug. 22

5:30 p.m. – Creekview vs. North Paulding

8:30 p.m. – Sandy Creek vs. Archer

Aug. 23

8:45 a.m. – Carrollton vs. Kell

11:45 a.m. – Mill Creek vs. Colquitt County (originally McEachern)

2:45 p.m. – Valdosta vs. Brookwood

5:45 p.m. – Tucker vs. Norcross (originally 8:45 p.m.)

8:45 p.m. – North Gwinnett vs. McEachern (originally Colquitt County at 5:45 p.m.)

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