Wednesday saw some of the key people involved in helping bring the regular season kickoff event to town acknowledged during the Classic’s annual luncheon at the Atlanta Marriott Northwest.
Joining Rome High head coach John Reid was Wolves starting quarterback Knox Kadum, athletic director Jason Harris and principal Eric Holland. The local contingent also included Rome City Manager Sammy Rich, Floyd County Manager Jamie McCord, and Lisa Smith and Ann Hortman from the Greater Rome Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“We thank you for picking Rome,” Reid said during his time on the stage to talk about his team’s contest tonight against Class 7A Marietta. “We’re so excited to have this at Rome, and it says a lot about the people who have helped us over the last three years to get to where we are, and I couldn’t be prouder of what we have going on.”
Starting his fourth season at the helm of the Wolves, Reid has led Rome to back-to-back Class 5A state championships. This will be the first time a team from Rome or Floyd County has played in the traditional event that signals the start of the high school football regular season.
“They are super well-coached and have tremendous players,” Reid said of Rome’s opponent. “This is a game that’s a lot like a state championship game, except you know about it for a whole year so you’ve got a whole year of stress and anxiety about it.”
Calhoun and Ridgeland square off first at 5:30 p.m., with the Wolves and Blue Devils taking the field in the late game. The evening is being presented by Harbin Clinic and televised on WATL.
“Rome has really rolled out the red carpet,” said Dave Hunter, executive director of the Corky Kell Classic. “We are excited to be up there tomorrow and excited about the quality of those games.”
Rusty Mansell, a recruiting analyst for 247Sports and a Lindale native, spoke about his part in getting the Corky Kell Classic organizers to pick Rome for its opening night games.
“The minute that I found out there was an opportunity for Rome to maybe host something I got in touch with our people at the city, Sammy and those folks,” Mansell said. “Coach Hunter called next.”
He expressed his appreciation to Reid and Calhoun head coach Hal Lamb for working with him to get the games set up.
“I think it set in on me how big the Corky Kell is and the importance of it … when I called coach Lamb, and it was a little bit late, and I told him there was an opportunity to be in the Corky Kell, and his first words were, ‘I’m in.’”
He ended his time at the podium with a prediction.
“Folks, tomorrow night is going to be something historic in Rome and Floyd County,” he said. “Get there early is all I’m going to tell you.”