In its seventh year, the game will mark the final time Cobb County’s best senior football players will get to represent their high schools on the gridiron.
All 21 of the county’s Georgia High School Association-affiliated programs are expected to have at least one representative taking part in the game, which pits the Americans against the Nationals.
The Nationals, coached by Campbell’s Harris Rainbow, lead the series 4-2 after posting a 23-14 victory last season. Four of the six games have been decided by five points or less, with the Nationals’ 41-19 win in 2010 the lone blowout.
The Nationals will feature players from Campbell, Harrison, Hillgrove, Kell, Kennesaw Mountain, North Cobb, North Cobb Christian, Osborne, Walker and Walton.
The Americans, coached by Whitefield Academy’s Jimmy Fields, will consist of players from Allatoona, Lassiter, Marietta, McEachern, Mount Paran Christian, Pebblebrook, Pope, Sprayberry, South Cobb, Wheeler and Whitefield.
“I really wanted to play the best players from the county, and the Senior Bowl has that,” Campbell’s Mike Rogers said. “I wanted that experience because it only comes once. It’s the last time I’ll suit up with these guys. We’re going to go out there and have fun.”
Rogers, who is committed to Central Florida, played running back, safety and special teams for Campbell this season. He’s expected to play running back and return kickoffs today.
“The coaches want me on offense to try and score some touchdowns,” Rogers said. “The practices I’ve been to this week have been live, and everybody’s hyped up to play. The coaches love it and they’re having a blast as well.”
Hillgrove wide receiver Justin Denton will also be playing today. He has scholarship offers from Air Force and Tusculum College, while Kennesaw State, Coastal Carolina and Western Carolina have also expressed interest.
“Practices have gone well,” Denton said. “Coach Rainbow and the other guys are getting us focused on learning the plays because we want to win (today).
“It’s exciting to be a part of it because you get to see a lot of the great players and competitors from the area. I’m just enjoying the moment. It hasn’t hit me yet, but I know it will be the last time I strap on the pads in high school. That’s depressing a little bit because I enjoyed everything about high school football.”
Linebacker Tyrell Tomlin is one of nine Marietta players expected to play for the Americans. While many of the other players are still trying to decide among different scholarship offers, or gain more by performing well in front of scouts at McEachern, Tomlin has already committed to play at North Carolina.
“Practices have been intense,” said Tomlin, who will slip the pads back on, even after transitioning into basketball season. “We take it lightly, but it’s serious sometimes. We want to get each other better so we can win (today). If we play together as a team, I think we can come out with the ‘W.’”
Tomlin understands today will be a bittersweet moment for him.
“This is the last time I’ll get to play with the senior guys from Cobb County, so I’m really excited,” he said. “We’re friends this week instead of going against each other. There’s a lot of emotions running through me knowing this is the last time I’ll suit up for a high school game.”
Lassiter offensive lineman Sam Wood is also looking forward to the event.
“Practices have been good,” he said. “I’ve been working with my offensive line coach (Chad Hicks), and it’s been pretty basic for me. Just seeing all the other players on the team, I think we have a good chance to win.
“As long as we do our job as five offensive linemen, we’ll score a lot of points. It will be up to us to get things going.”
Wood hopes to play football in college, but he’s not sure where yet. So far, he’s gained interest from West Georgia, Kennesaw State, Western Carolina and Dayton.
“I get butterflies thinking that this might be my last time playing football,” he said, “so I’m going to go out and play hard and make it something to remember.”
After having the day to itself each of the last six years, the Cobb event will be the second of two games today at Walter Cantrell Stadium. The inaugural Georgia Northwest All-Star Bowl, in which a team of Cherokee and Bartow county players go up against a team of Paulding and Douglas standouts, will kick off at 10 a.m.