Corky Kell Classic a positive experience for area teams
Win or lose, the Corky Kell Classic is a positive experience.
At least that’s the way the three area head coaches involved in the event see it.
Jones County, Houston County and Mary Persons will take part in the event for the second straight year Thursday at Mercer’s Five Star Stadium. Mary Persons faces Lee County at 5:15 p.m., followed by Jones County versus Houston County at 8:15 p.m.
“It’s good. I think our kids enjoy it,” Mary Persons head coach Brian Nelson said. “Obviously, there’s a couple of things that go with it. You play in a college stadium, which you don’t get to do that every day. It’s on TV. And then you’re part of a great organization in the Corky Kell and its foundation and everything that it stands for and does.
“On top of that, you get to play a really, really good opponent, which really, to me, regardless of the outcome helps your team get better.”
Nelson found that out in last year’s event. The Bulldogs lost 26-14 to Houston County. In the other game, Lee County held off Jones County 20-13.
“It’s awesome. It’s just a good way to start your season,” Jones County head coach Justin Rogers said. “It will be a packed house. Everybody in Middle Georgia is there. You’ll have all the Hoco Locos and all the Jones County Greyhounds. But then you’ll have your Middle Georgia fans, you’ll have your Central-Macon fans, your Northside fans, your Westside fans, just coming to watch football. And so the atmosphere, the crowd, it’s just unreal. It’s a playoff atmosphere right out the jump, and so, I told someone last year when we got done with it, I felt like our team grew up as if they played two games just from that one game. Just the intensity and the atmosphere, it’s going off the deep end, sink or swim right out the gate, and I think that’s a good thing for a program to have success for the long haul.
“I really think that game, even though we lost it, I think that game last year grew us up tremendously in that one night because of the atmosphere.”
The four teams finished last year with a 33-14 combined record, and three of the four (Lee County in 6A, Jones County in 5A and Mary Persons in 4A) reached the GHSA playoffs. Mary Persons finished 11-3 and reached the semifinals, while Jones County was 7-5 and Lee County was 8-3. Houston County finished 7-3 and missed the playoffs in the difficult Region 1-6A.
“Any time you can put your kids in that environment and your fans and your band and your administration can be around that style of environment, be on TV, that’s big for your program because people see it,” said Ryan Crawford, who will make his debut as Houston County’s head coach after being an assistant coach with the Bears. “Every day, we’re selling our brand; we’re selling our school to people, not just in our community but to ourselves. We’re selling it to our kids.
“I think it’s important for our guys to understand what they have in front of them and what’s at stake, to represent not just yourself but your school and being out there in front of this whole state of Georgia but the country, as well. It’s exciting times.”
Corky Kell Classic
Thursday at Mercer’s Five Star Stadium
Lee County vs. Mary Persons, 5:15 p.m.
Houston County vs. Jones County, 8:15 p.m.