Longhorns coach Derek Cook was a part of Irv Sigler’s Kell staff in 2005 with Allatoona defensive coordinator Troy Peterson and athletic director Benji Morrell. Allatoona’s current principal, Scott Bursmith, was also the basketball coach at Etowah when Cook was a student there. Finally, Allatoona coach Gary Varner and Peterson were on the Kell coaching staff when the school opened its doors in 2003.
Although the two schools share personnel links, they’ve never met on the football field until today, when the Buccaneers
(7-3) visit the Longhorns (10-0) for a Class AAAAA first-round state playoff game at Cobb Energy/Corky Kell Stadium.
Arguably, Allatoona and Kell have been two of the most successful teams in Cobb County over the last four years. The Buccaneers have made the state playoffs since their first varsity season in 2010 and own a combined record of 38-9 during that span. The second-ranked Longhorns have reached the postseason in each of the past six years — ever since Cook took over in 2008 — and have gone 41-6 over the past four seasons.
However, since its inception, Allatoona has been relegated to regions where it never gets to face county competition in its classification.
“Allatoona hasn’t played many Cobb County teams at all,” Cook said. “It’s kind of an anomaly that they’re in the county, but they haven’t played very many Cobb County teams. I think they’re the only one in those shoes because everybody else is in a region with other county teams. So, it’s unique for them to be in that situation.”
Tonight’s matchup against Kell finally gives Allatoona a shot at a Class AAAAA county school.
“I think the kids are excited about who we’re playing based on their record,” Varner said. “There really isn’t any type of rivalry with Kell, so it’s kind of like we’re just playing somebody in the bracket. They just happen to be the No. 2 team in the state and well-deserved. So, I don’t know if the Cobb County thing is playing any big part of this or not. It’s more who they are, and their record and their ranking.”
Despite not having faced each other before, the two teams are well aware of one another.
“Obviously, they’ve been very successful in the short amount of time they’ve been in existence,” Cook said. “They got up and running very quick.
“We know who they are because they’re a Cobb County team and they’ve been successful with very good players and very good coaches. I don’t think it would have mattered who it was that we were playing. Our kids are taking it very businesslike. We’re just excited that the playoffs are here. It’s postseason and time to do what you do.”
Game: Allatoona (7-3) at Kell (10-0), 7:30 p.m.
Last year: First meeting
All-time series: First meeting
Prediction: Kell 35, Allatoona 28