High School Football: Trio of games highlight day 3 of Corky Kell Classic

ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Moving right along to day three of action in the 32nd annual Corky Kell + Dave Hunter Classic features a trio of games that should bring plenty of excitement Friday.

Editor’s Note: The games have concluded. To watch Saturday games, click here.

The afternoon matinee kicks off at 2:30 p.m. at the Fellowship Christian School in Roswell and Stewart and Jeremy Johnson of Dawgs HQ/On3Sports will call the Mount Pisgah-Fellowship Christian game.

Then the games move to Rome late Friday afternoon as Adams and Mansell will call the Creekside-Kennesaw Mountain and Cass-Rome games from historic Barron Stadium.

How to watch Corky Kell + Dave Hunter Classic:

You can watch the games all season on PeachtreeTV or by downloading the ANF+ app on Roku, FireTV and AppleTV. You can watch today’s games by clicking on the “ANF Special Events” channel here: https://www.atlantanewsfirst.com/livestream/

Corky Kell + Dave Hunter Classic Game Previews:

Mt. Pisgah vs. Fellowship Christian

Mt. Pisgah and Fellowship Christian made history last year by being the first-ever private schools and all-private matchup to participate in the Corky Kell. The game set the tone in the Friday triple-header and saw Mt. Pisgah come away with a massive 21-18 victory. Prior to the win, Mt. Pisgah was 0-4 all-time against the Paladins and the Patriots were led by the since-graduated quarterback Jack Cendoya in the second half to pull away with the victory.

“We have played Fellowship for years,” said head coach Ryan Livezey after the victory. “And quite honestly, they had kind of moved well ahead of us in the last few years and it really had not been much of a rivalry anymore. But we have a great group and I think these guys got tired of being beaten by them.”

Cednoya graduated following a tremendous senior season and signed to play at Trinity University after racking up 4,273 total yards of offense and 49 total touchdowns. Cendoya led the team with 3,526 yards through the air with 36 passing touchdowns and also had a team-high 816 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. This season, senior Ian White is taking the reigns and comes to the Pisgah program via Marist—where he operated within an offensive system more geared to the run. Pisgah has the bulk of its offensive line returning and will see Jack Garver and Brandon Bostic returning as key playmakers for the Patriots’ offense.

Defensively, Praise Chane is returning at linebacker after earning the starting job last season as a freshman. Additionally, Jake Schmitz is poised for a big senior season after contributing last year as a defensive end and tight end. Fellowship Christian followed up its loss in Corky Kell last year with a tremendous 12-2 campaign and achieved the program’s fourth-straight region title and fourth run to the semifinals in the past seven seasons. In the offseason, The Paladins promoted defensive coordinator John Thompson to take over as head coach—replacing former head coach Tim McFarlin and setting the stage for Thompson’s head coaching debut in this year’s Classic. Thompson was one of the biggest hires during this offseason’s coaching carousel and is regarded as one of the top defensive minds in the coaching field. Prior to joining Fellowship in 2021, Thomson had served as defensive coordinator or co-coordinator at several SEC schools, including Mississippi, Florida, Arkansas, South Carolina, and LSU. Throughout his coaching career, he successfully graduated more than 40 of his defensive players from the collegiate level to the NFL.

“John and I have shared a friendship for many years, and I’m excited to have the opportunity to work with him again,” McFarlin said. “He brings so much to the table, and his contributions extend not only to the players but also to the coaches who work around him. He raises the bar for players and has a way of elevating them to play at a level well beyond what they thought was possible. He does the same for coaches, and he has a unique way of teaching coaches how to coach. John elevates everyone around him.”

This year’s Paladins team will have one of the most exciting Class of 2026 prospects in the state starring in the backfield. As a freshman, CJ Givers earned all-state praise with a 1,150-yard campaign and a team-high 16 rushing touchdowns. Givers began last season sharing the load, but became the lead back shortly after the Corky Kell and had several massive performances, including a 30-carry, 139-yard, two-touchdown performance against ELCA and a 200-yard three-touchdown outing against Union County. Givers is a tremendous down-hill runner with big-play ability and coach Livezey stressed the importance of his defense preventing explosive plays in this matchup. Moreover, Fellowship Christian’s offensive line will feature five-star junior offensive tackle Josh Petty. The 6-foot-5, 262-pound Class of 2025 standout is the No. 15-rated junior in the nation and the No. 5 ranked player in Georgia in the junior class heading into the season with more than 24 Power 5 offers. Starring in the receiving corps will be junior Josh Milhollin—who was outstanding last season with 838 receiving yards and also this year’s Class 2A Male Soccer Player of the Year. He is committed to play at Army following this season and is an experienced prospect with a proven ability to score touchdowns.

Creekside vs. Kennesaw Mountain

Creekside is coming off an excellent season finishing 10-3 and undefeated in their region. The Seminoles battled a tough Warner Robins team in a thrilling finish that saw them come up short in a 31-28 defeat. Head coach Maurice Dixon talked about the loss and how it fueled his team for this season.

“We’ve had a really big push on having character. We want to be selfless. Character shows up on the biggest stages and on the biggest opportunities, so we had a lack of character,” said Dixon. “We had some kids on our team that didn’t perform during that time. We want to be selfless and we want to be the tribe.”

Kennesaw Mountain finished the 2022 season 7-3 but missed the playoffs in a crowded region that includes North Cobb and Walton. Coach Caleb Carmean talked about being prepared and what his team needs to do to make the postseason.

“We have to build on last season. We are playing in a great region with great competition so we gotta bring it every week,” said Carmean. “Our focus this offseason has been attack. We want to attack our best every single day.

Creekside bolsters four-star offensive lineman Caleb Holmes (Pittsburgh commit) and will return the bulk of their rushing production from last season including running backs Roderick Mccrary and Travis Terrell. Running backs combined for 2,264 yards and 27 touchdowns in 2022.

“Caleb Holmes is a four year kid. I tell all the college coaches if you had to build an offensive guard or interior offensive lineman from scratch you make him about 6′3 285 long arms, athletic and lean. That is Caleb Holmes,” said Dixon.

“Travis Terrell is probably one of the best players in 6A football. Roderick McQuerary has been here for like eight years. He’s old. I love him to death. He’s like my son,” said Dixon. “We go through the ups and downs together. I remember him playing in ninth grade and that’s just because we had to play him. The team is on his shoulders. We will go as far as he takes us.”

Kennesaw Mountain will return highly sought after wide receiver Naylin Scott who has several major power five offers including Georgia, Georgia Tech, Auburn and Tennessee.

Michael Bell is also another key returning starter for the Mustangs. Last season Bell was tied for the team lead in interceptions with five. Bell has an excellent knack for being around the football and causing havoc leading to turnovers for the defense.

“We have a great senior class and this group has really bought in from day one and led us this offseason especially,” said Carmean. “We are bringing back safety and wide receiver Michael Bell and wide receiver Naylin Scott.

The Creekside defense will be a group to watch next season especially with the potential it has to be even better next season. The Seminoles produced five shutouts last season and held eight of their 13 opponents to 14 points or fewer.

“I really feel like on defense we are going to be better than we were last year. Daiquan White was a great player for us but I feel like his development and leadership into the guys we got coming back makes our group even more equipped,” said Dixon. “You are talking about on the backend we got five guys with college offers. I feel there isn’t a better front three in the state than ours. I trust the coaching we have to prepare them for Friday Nights.”

This season, the Mustangs will be strong on their offensive line. Despite losing four-star Connor Lew to Auburn, Kennesaw Mountain will return the majority of their offensive line from last season.

“We have three out of five of our starting offensive linemen returning. We’ve got some new guys about to burst onto the scene too,” said Carmean.

After their matchup with Kennesaw Mountain, Creekside will play two national opponents including St. Peter’s Prep (New Jersey) and Mater Dei (California).

“It’s about going out there and playing the best teams you can. We have trouble getting games in-state, so we have to reach out nationally to play games. We just look at them as opportunities,” said Dixon. Playing Mater Dei is no different than last year playing top 10 East St. Louis. We are just looking for the best competition to prepare for our region play and push to win our 15th game of the year.”

Both teams will look to jump off to a good start and set the tone for the 2023 season.

Cass vs. Rome

The Cass Colonels are on a mission to make 2023 the year that determinately establishes the program as a preeminent force on the Georgia High School Football landscape. Fourth-year head coach Steve Gates—a McEachern alum that has both played and coached in the Classic—has been at the helm during this ascendant mission and the Colonels are coming off back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time in the school’s 71-year history. Cass has even higher aspirations driving it this year and has a roster that is loaded with experience and exceptional talent.

In 2022, Cass produced a school-record 30.42 ppg offensively and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the Class 5A state playoffs following a 27-17 win over No. 4 ranked Jefferson. The Colonels’ explosive offense returns sophomore quarterback Brodie McWhorter after he completed 172-of-261 attempts for 2,012 yards, 20 touchdowns and five interceptions—earning First-Team All-Region and several major Power 5 offers. Additionally, the offense returns a seasoned offensive line that includes Bear McWhorter and Kail Ellis at the tackle positions and 6-foot-4, 310-pound junior and two-way starter Tayvian McKibbin in the interior. Georgia-commit Sacovie White and Liberty-commit Devin Henderson as versatile playmakers that will also star as one of the state’s most dynamic safety tandems in the Cass secondary with Jakai Baldwin returning at cornerback after earning First-Team All-Region following a tremendous sophomore campaign.

Senior linebacker Kevin Henderson is a 6-foot, 205-pound prospect with multiple offers that tallied 96.5 tackles, 13.5 TFL, four sacks and four interceptions this past season. Defensive lineman Kaden Ellis is poised for a big junior season and the 6-foot-1, 275-pound prospect picked up an Appalachian State and Eastern Kentucky offer this offseason. Ellis tallied 46 tackles, 8.5 TFL and a team-high 4.5 sacks last season. This will be the first time since 2019 that Cass has played Rome and the Colonels are 1-9 all-time in the series with five-straight losses. The past five losses to Rome produced an average margin of victory of 40 points per game in the Wolves’ favor—which makes this matchup an ultimate measuring stick for Cass. Class 6A powerhouse Rome is making its fourth all-time appearance in the Corky Kell + Dave Hunter Classic and earned a 16-6 win over Class 5A No. 2 ranked-Creekside last year.

The Wolves will once again be opening the season against a Class 5A contender and are coming off a strong 12-2 season. Rome’s only two losses came to Class 7A’s Carrollton and eventual state-champion Hughes in the semifinals and the program marched to the semifinals with impressive playoff wins over Paulding County (49-0), Alpharetta (35-14) and Marist (17-7) before falling to the Panthers. In Region 6-6A play, Rome was unstoppable—sweeping the field and outscoring Allatoona (42-19), Woodstock (70-0), Sequoyah (52-0), River Ridge (55-7), Creekview (30-0) and Etowah (63-3) a whopping 312-to-29—resulting in a 47.2 average margin of victory.

The Wolves enter this season with eight-straight playoff berths, five region titles, two state championships and 19 playoff victories in the same span and are 6-2 in season openers since John Reid assumed the head coaching role in 2015. Much of this success has been experienced with Reece Fountain under center and the Class of 2024 prospect is entering his fourth-year as a starter. Fountain has a 27-5 all-time record as a Wolves’ starter and is coming off a junior season that saw him complete 218-of-292 passes (75 percent) for 3,028 yards and 28 touchdowns. These numbers were a sharp improvement from his 2,312-yard, 19-touchdown sophomore season and he is poised for a tremendous finale to his varsity career. DK Daniel is back to lead the receivers after hauling in a team-high 71 catches for 957 yards and seven touchdowns. Defensively, Justin Terrell is a 6-foot-2, 280-pound three-star senior prospect that is committed to N.C. State. Terrell earned First-Team All-State honors last season and tallied 53.5 total tackles with seven tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, two pass deflections and one fumble recovery. Senior Javion Winston will lead the Rome secondary and posted 32 tackles, a team-high eight pass breakups and three tackles for loss last season.

Corky Kell + Dave Hunter Classic Schedule:

Friday, Aug. 18 at Fellowship Christian High School

2:00 p.m.- Mt. Pisgah vs. Fellowship Christian

Friday, Aug. 18 at Rome’s Barron Stadium

5:30 p.m.- Creekside vs. Kennesaw Mountain

8:30 p.m.- Cass vs. Rome

Saturday, Aug. 19 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

10:00 a.m.- Marietta vs. Norcross

1:00 p.m.- Brookwood vs. McEachern

4:00 p.m.- North Gwinnett vs. Mill Creek

7:00 p.m.- Walton vs. Grayson