The rivalry between North Cobb and Kennesaw Mountain, also known as the Civil War Classic, will be the first football game at Kennesaw State University’s Fifth Third Bank Stadium.
If all goes well, the matchup is expected to move to the stadium permanently.
“We’re really excited to do this because it is the first (football) game being played,” said North Cobb quarterback Tyler Queen of playing in the 8,300-seat venue. “We’re excited to showcase our talent along with Kennesaw Mountain. We’ve been preparing for this like we should and, hopefully, we can all put on a show for everyone to come and see.”
The game will also be streamed live online at www.nfhsnetwork.com/events/ 64641.
The idea to move the game to Fifth Third Bank Stadium was brought about by Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews. He thought it was a great way to spotlight the community’s teams and help fans get an idea of what to expect when Kennesaw State’s football program kicks off in the fall of 2015.
“It’s a great way to introduce football to the stadium,” Mathews told the Journal last month. “We’ve had a big rivalry between Kennesaw Mountain and North Cobb, and we all came together so both schools could benefit from the game.”
Considering what has been played at the stadium so far, football is a big change of pace.
Fifth Third Bank Stadium, originally named KSU Soccer Stadium, was renamed last February when football was announced. It has accommodated soccer and lacrosse since opening in May 2010.
The Atlanta Beat made their home at the stadium during the 2010 and ’11 seasons before Women’s Professional Soccer ceased operations. The Beat would go on and set the all-time stadium attendance record of 9,345 on July 23, 2011. The stadium also hosted the NCAA Women’s College Cup in December of the same year.
The Kennesaw State women’s soccer team has used Fifth Third Bank as its home base since the 2010 campaign and drew 2,683 fans when the Owls played Georgia State on Aug. 23, 2012. Last March, Kennesaw State’s women’s lacrosse team made its debut.
This summer, Major League Lacrosse made its debut at the stadium when the Rochester Rattlers played the Boston Cannons in a regular season game in front of nearly 4,000 fans. MLL is expected to announce later this fall an expansion team being placed in Atlanta, and playing at the stadium for the 2014 season.
Now North Cobb and Kennesaw Mountain will attempt to draw a similar size crowd, if not larger. Tickets are $7 in advance if purchased at the schools, the Kennesaw State Box Office or online at www.ticketalternative.com. Walk-up tickets will be $10 at the stadium, with gates opening at 6 p.m.
“Obviously it’s going to be an exciting event,” Kennesaw Mountain coach Andy Scott said. “To be the first game over there, it’s going to be a big deal so we’re looking forward to the opportunity. It’s going to be a great stadium for fans to watch a game. It’s got a tremendous playing surface – it will be like playing at the Augusta National – and it should be pretty nice.”
Added Kennesaw Mountain defensive lineman Taariq Shabazz, “Just being a senior, it will be a game to remember. It’s a big rival game so it should be pretty exciting.”
As exciting as the game will be for the opponents, it will be equally exciting for Kennesaw State.
The Owls football program’s inaugural season will come in the fall of 2015, and the staff from the KSU Sports and Recreation Park, of which the stadium is part, will get a dry run to understand what they can expect in the future.
“We’re going to see what football feels like at KSU,” Marty Elliott, the executive director of the KSU Sports and Recreation Park said when the game was first announced. “It’s an opportunity to pull together our staff. We’ll get to use this to go through game-day logistics, and we’ll be able to see traffic patterns.”
While the dry run will be invaluable for Kennesaw State, Elliott said it was also a way for the university to be a good neighbor.
“It was easy for us to begin the conversation (on this game),” she said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun for the community.”
As far as on the field tonight, both teams are coming off losses and have something to prove.
Kennesaw Mountain (1-1) lost 34-28 to South Cobb on the final possession and is attempting to return to its winning ways against a North Cobb team that made it to the Class AAAAAA state semifinals last season.
North Cobb (1-1) dropped a 28-13 decision to Walton in its final non-region game and had trouble stopping the Raiders’ ground attack.
Kennesaw Mountain could give North Cobb’s defense that has nine new starters a similar dose of carries. Jamari Carter had 201 yards on 21 carries last week and a touchdown. Quarterback Nigel Hayes is also a threat to run as well as pass, having thrown for 203 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“This will be a great opportunity to show what we can do,” said North Cobb safety Cameron Albright, who committed to North Carolina. “There’s been a lot of excitement and intensity at practice to prepare for this game.”