Then, it was “The Battle of the Big Chicken.”
It finally became the “Battle of 1-75.”
“It” is a doubleheader high-school football showcase that will kick off for the first time tonight when four teams — Lassiter, Hillgrove, Walton and McEachern — take the field at Walter Cantrell Stadium in Powder Springs.
The Trojans and Hawks will face off in the first game, which is scheduled to kick off at 6 p.m., with the Raiders taking on the Indians in the 8:30 p.m. nightcap.
Whether the organizers ever come up with a good name for the event is still to be determined, but one thing is for certain. Fans will get to see some of the best high school football Cobb County — and the state of Georgia — has to offer.
Those heading to the game tonight can expect to see at minimum 10 players who will be playing big-time college football next year.
Walton has four — Tyren Jones, who rushed for 309 yards last week against Brookwood, and quarterback Parker McLeod, who will both be heading to Alabama, offensive linemen Brandon Kublanow (Georgia) and Jake Boynton (Kentucky). And this doesn’t include junior defensive back D.J. Smith, who already has offers from over half of the SEC.
Lassiter will bring an offensive trio highlighted by UCLA-bound quarterback Eddie Printz and a pair of wide receivers — Juwan Dickey, who has yet to commit, has offers from Oklahoma State, UCLA and others, along with future Clemson Tiger Ryan Jenkins.
Hillgrove brings in defensive back Tolando Cleveland, who will be heading to Georgia Tech and wide receiver Evan Engram, who has committed to Ole Miss. And host McEachern boasts offensive lineman Jujuan Dulaney, who will be playing for Maryland.
That is a lot of Division I talent on one high school field, and that was the idea when this event was hatched last December. It also doesn’t hurt that all four teams won at least 10 games in 2011 and that three are currently ranked in the top 10 of Class AAAAAA.
McEachern athletic director Jimmy Dorsey said that the idea was based on the annual Corky Kell Classic and that he had conversations with Indians’ coach Kyle Hockman about bringing in some big-name teams to compete in the event, but last season proved to be a perfect storm of Cobb County football success – 12 playoff teams, Walton and Lassiter in the state semifinals and the Raiders getting a chance to play for the Class AAAAA title – that it offered the perfect opportunity to get the doubleheader off the ground.
“The East (Cobb)-West (Cobb) thing is intriguing,” Dorsey said. “For years it seemed as if the west was up, then it kind of shifted to the east. Now, we’ve got four great teams from a local standpoint. This has the potential to be a really good event.”
Tickets for tonight’s showcase is $12. One ticket is good for both games and profits raised during the evening will be split evenly among the four competing schools. Dorsey also said he expects as many as 18,000 fans could file through the gates over the course of the evening.
“I feel like if we got a perfect storm we could see 18,000,” he said. “Financially, it could be a good windfall for these schools, especially over a two-year period.”
That’s because the four teams entered a two-game commitment. Next year, the matchups will switch, with Walton facing Hillgrove and Lassiter taking on McEachern.
This year, both games will also be broadcast on Georgia Public Broadcasting, meaning Cobb County football will could be seen by as many as 500,000 to a million people, and Dorsey said that was one of the big selling points he wanted to have before approaching the other schools about competing in the new event.
“We feel like it will make it a little more special,” he said.
This event has a lot of potential. McEachern, Hillgrove, Lassiter and Walton have the foundation in place to be good for a long time. That is also true of teams like Kell and Allatoona and there are many others on the rise that could push their way into the discussion.
It’s the first year, but the options for now appear to be endless. This could easily become a Saturday showcase much like the Corky Kell, or possibly become a two-day event.
Maybe in the future it could be called the Dorsey Invitational, the Four Lane Challenge – highlighting the fact that Cobb Parkway was the first four lane road in the state of Georgia – or maybe something as simple as the Cobb Football Showcase. Regardless, that’s in the future.
For now all we know is the event may have a bad name, but it should have plenty of good football.