Cherokee will be a participant in Georgia’s premier high school football showcase for the next two years.
The Warriors were announced as one of 22 teams selected to participate in the Corky Kell Classic for the 2020 and ’21 seasons. The event, which began in 1992, has annually featured some of the state’s best programs and served as the unofficial beginning to the high school football season.
Cherokee will play in the state’s first game of the year, kicking off the event Wednesday, Aug. 19 at 5:30 p.m., facing Carver-Atlanta at West Forsyth High School.
The Classic will also feature two games each Thursday and Friday at Dacula High School and Rome’s Barron Stadium, respectively, with four games Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
It will be Cherokee’s first appearance in Corky Kell Classic since it played Starr’s Mill to open the 2006 and ’07 seasons at the since-demolished Georgia Dome. Creekview was the last county team to play in the event, playing a pair of games at McEachern High School in 2014 and ’15.
“We’re thrilled to get in,” Cherokee coach Josh Shaw said. “You’re talking about 22 elite football teams and programs. Just to be associated with a name like the Corky Kell Classic is good for our program.”
Cherokee (8-3) is in the midst of its first back-to-back playoff appearances since the 2006 and ’07 seasons, and will play at Archer on Friday in the second round of the Class AAAAAAA state playoffs.
“Our success this season really helped contribute to it,” Shaw said of the Warriors’ invitation to the Classic. “They want a team who makes the playoffs.”
Each of the 22 teams scheduled to play in next year’s Classic made the playoffs this season, with 15 still playing, including Alabama powerhouse Hoover, which will face Lowndes in one of the games at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The event also serves as a showcase for individual players, and Cherokee fits that mold with the likes of quarterback A.J. Swann, running back Keith Adams Jr. and wide receiver Adarrius Harshaw.
“The fact that we have our really good sophomore class probably helped contribute to it as well,” Shaw said. “Those guys are starting to make names for themselves.”
Shaw said the Classic will likely serve as a bit of extra motivation during the spring and summer workouts. Each team is given a certain amount of tickets to sell, and even with the game taking place on a Wednesday evening, Shaw is optimistic about the fan support.
“We’ll be on a mission after the turn of the year to sell our allotment,” Shaw said. “We’re really excited.”