This year’s Corky Kell Classic for the most part was back to normal compared to past years. The only difference was teams not playing at Georgia State Stadium on Friday as previous years. Compared to last year where all games were played at nine different sites, this year it was only five.
Out of the 22 teams that participated in the Classic, several things stood out from the teams covered this week both good and bad. Overall, it is the first game of the season for these teams and a measuring stick for some teams.
Mays vs. Cherokee
Mays: While the Raiders fell big to Cherokee 52-6 in Wednesday’s game, it’s easy to look at what went wrong and where to begin. The most important thing is that things are not always as bad as it seems. Self inflicted turnovers hurt the Raiders in this game as that was the major difference in the game. Multiple bad snaps by the Raiders centered halted promising drives and gave the Warriors great field position. The Warriors scored 14 points off of turnovers because of this.
The room for improvement for the Raiders is simple, work on the fundamentals of snapping the football and not hurting yourself with turnovers. Quarterback Quintavious Johnson is looking better and will continue to get better with more reps.
Cherokee: For the Warriors, quarterback A.J. Swann looked great as he threw for four touchdowns in the game. However, the Warriors did struggle to get the running game going until later in the ballgame and the Raiders offense were giving the defense problems. As they go back to the film room, they will have to look to establish the running game earlier and be effective.
Carver-Atlanta vs. West Forsyth
Carver: Coming into the season, the Panthers were known for their defense and were a team to watch as they made it to the Class 3-A quarterfinals. In their Corky Kell matchup against West Forsyth, while the score may be misleading the defense showed up and played. The problem is the Panthers offense was unable to generate lengthy drives and points to help the defense out. Therefore, when you’re in highly contested game with a great opponent like West Forsyth, you have to convert and score points.
The Panthers room for improvement is to get better offensively, specifically in the passing game. The Panthers finished 9-20 with 32 yards passing and two interceptions. While they rushed for 201 yards, passing for 32 yards is not going to cut it. They will have the chance to build upon this and quick as they play Lovejoy next week in the Great Atlanta Bash.
West Forsyth: The Wolverines deserve a lot of credit in their win against Carver-Atlanta simply for making the plays when needed to. Quarterback Keegan Stover was efficient throwing for four touchdowns on 12-21 passing for 177 yards. Highly recruited tight end Oscar Delp finished the game with five catches for 67 yards and a touchdown. The Wolverines did a great job scheming plays for Delp and going to him when plays were needed on third down.
While the Wolverines were able to use the rushing attack when needed later in the game, they managed to only rush for 92 yards on the ground. As they play teams like Walton, Cartersville and evenly matched teams when the playoffs start, they will have to establish the run and stay balanced if they look to make a deep run in the playoffs.
Archer vs. Westlake
Archer: After suffering a 29-14 loss to a better Westlake team, the Tigers will have to go back to the drawing board and figure out ways to be better. Although this loss may hurt, it can be the start of something great for a Tigers team that is young and looking to reload. While their next opponent in Warner Robins will not make it easy for them, there are a few things they can fix heading into that matchup.
The Tigers tried to get their running game going but only managed to rush for 64 yards and did not give their quarterback Caleb Peevy a chance to be successful. All this means is to trust their quarterback more and find the best passing scheme to help him and the offense be successful. This in turn will help the rushing attack. Finding more ways to help get Georgia Tech commit and receiver D.J. Moore more touches will surely help them as they begin their region schedule.
Westlake: The Lions proved a lot of people wrong in this game who thought they would struggle after losing a tremendous amount of talent from last season. One thing foreshore about the Lions is that they have talented wide receivers who can go and make plays. Most importantly, star quarterback R.J, Johnson finished the game with four total touchdowns (two rushing, two passing) on 12-22 passing for 176 yards. While Johnson had one interception on the game, he admitted to him being greedy as some quarterbacks get at times.
The most important thing for the Lions to improve upon moving forward is continuing to get the receivers and runningbacks reps on offense and continuing to get the defense off the field in short yardage situations. The Lions are expected to make another run at the state title this season and if the Lions play up to par as they did Thursday, it is highly possible to see them back in the state semifinals.
Hoover vs. North Gwinnett
Hoover: The Buccaneers have a lot to celebrate and be excited about after coming to Georgia and dominating a North Gwinnett team 38-14. Quarterback Bennett Meredith and receiver Cotton Peters were unstoppable against the Bulldogs. Playing in a game like this is great for a team like the Buccaneers because not only is it a measuring stick against top Georgia teams but it gets the team and fans hyped to play in a game like this and raise the competition level between both teams.
As the Buccaneers continue their season, they will have to play against teams such as Thomson. If they plan to be undefeated by the time they face Thomson, their receivers will have to continue to make plays for them.
North Gwinnett: For the Bulldogs, a loss like this is deflating. With that being said, an early loss in the Corky Kell Classic does not spell doom their season nor does it for any other team in this classic. The Bulldogs quarterback Ethan Washington struggled in this game passing as he finished a horrific 5-23 for 47 yards and one interception. It is easy to say that Washington had a bad game and needs to improve.
While that is true, I think the most important thing to remember is that this is Washington’s first true game as quarterback. Things like this take time and the more reps he gets as the season goes on, the more the Bulldogs will know what he can do. He also had moments in this game like breaking loose for a 73 yard touchdown run to put the Bulldogs ahead.
The Bulldogs defense will also have to improve on not allowing the big play. Allowing passing plays of 44 and 82 yards from the Buccaneers offense swung the momentum vastly in the Buccaneers favor. The Bulldogs will not have much time to turn it around though as they play Parkview, Collins Hill, Lovejoy and Mill Creek this season.
Collins Hill vs. Brookwood
Collins Hill: While it may not be a surprise to a lot, Travis Hunter is very good at football. In the Eagles 36-10 win against Brookwood, Hunter had a great game finishing with 13 catches for 232 yards and two touchdowns. Hunter also had an interception to add to his amazing night. The Eagles were dominant in the second half and looked like the Class 7-A state title contender. They also had moments they know
Turnovers by the Eagles in this game gave the Broncos many chances in the game to get points but the Broncos were unable to capitalize off of the turnovers. While Eagles quarterback and Missouri commit Sam Horn threw for three touchdowns on 31-42 passing for 402 yards, he also threw two interceptions in the game. The first one halted a promising drive in the first hald and the second one was in the second half off a throw into the endzone. When the Eagles play tough opponents later in the season, these are things they will need to improve on and not put themselves in tough situations.
Brookwood: The Broncos fought as much as they could but were unable to make plays in this game. Broncos receiver Stone Bonner finished with six catches for 101 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Dylan Longeran finished 16-31 for 197 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
The game turned for Brookwood late in the second quarter with 34 seconds left as they fumbled on third down giving the Eagles the ball on the Broncos 28. The Eagles capitalized off that turnover which gave them a two possession lead heading into halftime.
As the Broncos continue to play, one of the most important things they can do is avoid dropping a lot of passes. The Broncos dropped multiple passes in the game which could have made a huge difference not only for the offense but for the game overall.