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Norcross, Brookwood open season with historic Corky Kell wins

Another installment of the annual Corky Kell-Dave Hunter Classic concluded on Saturday with the first two games of the day featuring a battle of the Blue Devils as Norcross and Marietta kickoff the day with two programs meeting for the first time in their respective histories. The Classic’s second contest saw the meeting of the annual high school football event’s original participants, the Brookwood Broncos and the McEchern Indians.

Following the first kickoff of the day between the Blue Devils, Norcross would strike first and take a 3-0 lead following a field goal in the first quarter. Marietta would respond and take the lead following a Russell Bey rushing touchdown and despite missing the extra point, Marietta would take their first and only lead of the day as Norcross would regain the lead after a AJ Watkins touchdown through the air to Jamari Harrold, as they would go up 10-6.

A Marietta field goal would get them within one point of Norcross as they trailed 10-9, however Watkins would rush for his second touchdown of the day as Norcross would go up 17-9 and from there would score the game’s next 28 points to take a 45-9 lead by the end of the third quarter. And while Marietta would find the end zone two more times in the fourth quarter, time would not be on their side as time would expire with Norcross picking up the 45-23 win. The Norcross victory would push head coach Keith Maloof to his 216th win as a head coach and moving him up on the All-Time winningest active head coaches.

Another historic moment from the game came in the third quarter, while Norcross looked to take a commanding lead and had appeared to have done so following a fumble recovery in the end zone. The played for Norcross quarterback to pitch to Alex Garnett on the inside jet sweep and as Garnett looked to enter the end zone at the corner pylon almost untouched, the junior wide receiver would lose the ball just as contact arrived, however before being down and the ball still being live. With a heads up play, Norcross’ Kevin Maven-Winchester would recover the ball, as it appeared to bounce off the goal line, and tumble into the end zone.

As Norcross began to celebrate the apparent touchdown, officials quickly gathered to determine if they were all in agreeance of the final call of the play resulting in a score for Norcross, they concluded that the use of video replay would need to assist in their decision, marking the first use of the system in Georgia high school football history. Following an approximate five minute break for the review of the replay, the official call on the play stood as a touchdown, and while Norcross would increase their lead, the moment’s true significance, signaled a new era for high school football in Georgia.

The Brookwood, McEachern matchup featured multiple historical ties for both programs to the classic. From being the first two teams to participate in the inaugural event, Brookwood head coach, Philip Jones, was the Broncos ball boy on that August day at the Georgia Dome in 1992. Later in his high school playing days as a member of the Brookwood team, Philips had his opportunity to play in the “Classic” under Coach Dave Hunter, who the annual event was co-named after. And while the Indians are no strangers to the event, in his first season as McEachern’s head coach, Kareem Reid made his Corky Kell-Dave Hunter. “It’s a classic I always wished I could have been a part of,”Reid said earlier in the week when discussing the significance of participating in the “Classic”.

As the game got underway, the Broncos would established momentum early as they took a 7-0 first quarter lead, however by the end of the second quarter, the Indians would walk into the locker room at halftime with the momentum and 13-7 lead. With the third quarter underway, McEachern appeared to take more control of the game as quarterback Jayden Kinney would connect with Terry Wilson, who after shedding a Brookwood defender, would race into the end zone for the touchdown. The Indians would take a 20-7 lead once the extra point on the Wilson score was added.

However, despite trailing by 13 points, the Broncos, who Coach Philips said was “still trying to figure out who we are in a lot of ways,” with their identity, settled in to put together a string of offensive and defensive series, which allowed them to score 14 unanswered points. The first Brookwood scoring drive of the quarter would result in a pass from quarterback C.J. Franklin to Lee Miles, with Miles racing into the end zone. Then trailing 20-14, Brookwood would put together another drive leaning on their running back duo of Cameron French and Braden Tyson, and Tyson helping the Broncos regain the lead, going up 21-20. However, despite taking the lead, the Indians would take possession with enough time to get within field goal range, but would fall short of reaching the mark to attempt the potential game winner, resulting in the 21-20 win for Brookwood.


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