Polk School District

A last-minute scramble after a couple of teams pulled out of next year’s Corky Kell Classic has left us with some interesting — and likely one-sided — matchups.

But kudos to the Polk County teams who stepped in and stepped up to make this coming year’s games a truly local experience. They may go into their respective games the underdogs, but if they should win they gain some pretty big bragging rights.

We’ve already said this but in case you missed it, we’ll say it again. Rome High School will be playing Rockmart High School and Carrollton High School will be playing Cedartown High School.

Why did Rockmart and Cedartown have to step up? Rumor has it that two teams backed out when they found out who they were playing. Hint, they weren’t Rome and Carrollton.

Regardless who those teams were or why, they aren’t playing. This is where we’re at and it should bring Yellow Jacket and Bulldog fans to Barron Stadium.

Rusty Mansell from 247 Sports posted this to his Facebook page after the announcement: “As many know I am involved with the Corky Kell committee here in NW Ga for games at Barron Stadium. It has been a WILD 24 hours to say the least on teams. Wanted to say kudos to Rockmart and Cedartown, who both rearranged their schedules and agreed to play high classifications teams in the matter of minutes literally. Both teams will have their kids on TV state-wide for two years in a row. One call to coach (Biff) Parson and Coach (Doyle) Kelley was all that was needed.”

Rusty also said Rome was very adamant about wanting to continue its relationship with Corky Kell and remain a host.

The Corky Kell Classic is recognized as one of the premiere high school football kickoff events in the nation, and next year will be its 29th year.

Rome’s first Corky Kell game in 2018 brought out a packed crowd to Barron Stadium on a Thursday night. They witnessed a shootout between the Rome Wolves and Marietta Blue Devils that the Wolves won 51-41.

That game featured some of the top talent in the state and the nation, including Rome High’s Jamious Griffin and Knox Kadum and Marietta’s Harrison Bailey and Arik Gilbert.

Also, when Rome High first played in the Corky Kell, it was part of a doubleheader that heralded the start of the high school football season in Georgia.

For two years, the GHSA football season began exclusively in Rome, but that part at least is going to change.

Next year, Corky Kell is moving the games in Rome to a Friday. That, paired with the addition of a fourth day of games on the Wednesday before, takes that distinction away from Rome. But it does move the games at Barron Stadium to a night when several other area teams will be in action.

It will mean that players, cheerleaders, band members and fans won’t have to stay out so late on a weeknight with school the next day.

Now that Polk County’s two football teams have jumped into the fray, that puts three of the four participating teams within a 30-minute drive of Rome. Carrollton is the outlier at an hour south of Rome.

Rome and Carrollton will both be in the same region next year as new members of Class 6A, or AAAAAA, so there is a possibility that the Trojans could return to Barron Stadium later in the season, although the full regular season schedule has not been made public.

For comparison, Rockmart will be in Class 3A after moving up from AA during realignments this month, and Cedartown is in Class 4A.

It’s been a long time since Rockmart or Cedartown played in Barron Stadium. There are likely former players and students who have memories of when the schools played East Rome and West Rome at the stadium.

Cedartown last played Rome at Barron Stadium in 2004, while Rockmart hasn’t played at the site since before the merger of East and West Rome in 1992.

The Rockmart-Rome game will match up two teams that have turned a corner in the last four seasons.

The teams have played for a combined three state championships in the last three years. Rome won the 5A state title in 2016 and 2017. Rockmart played for the AA state title in 2018, while Rome lost in the 5A state semifinals.

Either way, we’re hoping all the participating teams go into this with a winning attitude and come out having learned something to assist them in the rest of their season.

It should be fun.

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