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Corky Kell Classic

The Ultimate Kickoff to the GHSA Football Season – Brent Key/Corky Kell + Dave Hunter Classic 7-on-7 Q&A

Anticipation is building for the upcoming high school football season and fans and players are gearing up for one of the most highly anticipated events of the year: the Brent Key/Corky Kell + Dave Hunter Classic 7-on-7.

Widely celebrated as an exciting kickoff, this classic tournament has become a staple in the Georgia high school football calendar, drawing teams and spectators from all corners of the state. The Brent Key/Corky Kell + Dave Hunter Classic 7-on-7 is more than just a “preseason tournament,” it’s a showcase of talent, strategy, and pure athleticism. Held annually, this event brings together top high school teams for a series of fast-paced, high-energy 7-on-7 games. Unlike traditional football, the 7-on-7 format emphasizes speed and precision making it a thrilling event for fans and a training ground for players.

The tournament kicks off on June 4th, with games scheduled for June 4th, 5th, 11th, and 12th, ensuring four action-packed day of football action at Georgia Tech. Each day promises exciting matchups and a chance for teams to test themselves against top-tier competition.

Several notable teams and coaches are set to participate in this year’s Classic, adding to the anticipation and excitement. On June 4th North Gwinnett and Coach Eric Godfree will kick off the tournament on opening day. Secondly, on June 5th, Coach Adam Miller will lead Centennial at Bobby Dodd Stadium, where they will face opponents in what promises to be a thrilling set of games. June 11th will see intense matchups at Bobby Dodd, with Coach Jason Kervin guiding Alpharetta and Coach Robert Walsh leading Whitefield Academy.

Meanwhile, on June 12th, the Rose Bowl Practice field will host another set of captivating games. Coach Caleb Carmean of Kennesaw Mountain will showcase his team’s prowess, followed by Coach Mike Nash and his Dunwoody squad, who are also scheduled to play at the Rose Bowl facility. A few coaches participating in this year’s event gave us insight on the tournament, their teams’ preparation, and what fans can expect from this year’s Brent Key/Corky Kell + Dave Hunter Classic 7-on-7.

See the morning round-robin schedule for each day by following the link or see the Q&A below.

Q. What do 7-on-7 games do to prepare a team for the season?

Alpharetta coach Jason Kervin – “It’s a big part of developing the throw game. Start to build some chemistry on your team. Give guys an opportunity to compete.”

Centennial coach Adam Miller -“Biggest thing for us is competing. Of course, working on concepts and timing in the passing game is important but overall it’s about competing.”

Whitefield coach Robert Walsh -“It allows us to get into a competitive setting before the season begins.  We can learn what we need to work on in the passing game offensively and defensively.  We have positions that need to be filled and this gives us an opportunity to evaluate in a competitive setting!”

East Paulding coach Van Spence -“7-on-7 is great for QBs.”

Kennesaw Mountain coach Caleb Carmean -“The 7-on-7 helps prepare some schematically in the passing game, but we really value the opportunity to compete”

Dunwoody coach Mike Nash -“First, we try to make sure our kids realize that 7-on-7 is not 11-man football and in the grand scheme of things means very little. However, it is also an extremely good way to teach our kids how to compete! Andy Dyer was the first Coach I ever heard say “How you do anything g is how you do everything” and I love that. We tell our kids to show us they will compete at everything during these 7-on-7’s.”

North Gwinnett coach Eric Godfree – “The biggest thing it helps us with is one route running, to see kids run correct routes, precise routes, offensively. Defensively, the biggest thing for us is we get to work on our pass coverage. Our secondary guys get to work on seeing the right keys and being in the right places, so it helps us a lot as far as offensive and defensive structure and schemes, that helps tremendously.”

Q. How do 7-on-7 tournaments contribute to team chemistry?

Centennial coach Adam Miller -“The tournaments allow guys to build confidence in themselves and as a team overall. It also builds the bond between players and our program.”

Whitefield Academy coach Robert Walsh  “Communication and trust are two huge components of any great team.  This will give our team a chance to communicate on and off the field in a game-like atmosphere.  It will also give an opportunity to players stepping into new roles this year to earn their teammates trust.”

East Paulding coach Van Spence Anytime you compete as a team it’s a chance to build chemistry. You can learn a lot about your team in summer competitions. How will they respond in adverse times and how do they handle success?”

Kennesaw Mountain coach Caleb Carmean  “7-on-7 helps with team chemistry because it allows players to build trust and also helps us know who we can count on when the game is on the line and who the true competitors are.”

Dunwoody coach Mike Nash -“They are great to develop it with your skill guys. Gives you time to work on timing, etc.… just must make sure you don’t get into the trap of placing cover 2 man all the time and holding the ball for 4 seconds on every play!”

North Gwinnett coach Eric Godfree – “There’s not a lot of downtime in football socially, but with 7 on 7, we play a game, then we’re off 30 minutes, the kids got to communicate, talk, and hangout which contributes to the social aspect of fostering team chemistry. As far as the competitive nature, the guys going out there and competing and celebrating with one another of course brings a lot of chemistry on the competitive end, as well.”

Q. What are you looking for from your guys at this event? Do you prefer to give the younger guys more playing time or is this more of an opportunity to show off more of your key guys in a small, sided game or both?

Centennial coach Adam Miller -“For us it’s a little bit of both. We want to allow our guys to compete but at the same time throw the young guys “into the fire” and see how they handle it. I know our guys that played last year in the tournament are excited to get back out and battle this year.”

Whitefield coach Robert Walsh – “For us it’s a little bit of both. We want to allow our guys to compete but at the same time throw the young guys “into the fire” and see how they handle it. I know our guys that played last year in the tournament are excited to get back out and battle this year.”

East Paulding coach Van Spence –“I am looking for our leaders to lead. I play all age kids, we are going to compete and when it comes to playing time, it is a performance-based activity. The guys that are making plays and doing what they need to do will get more PT. As for the older guys it is a great opportunity to build their stock working to the next level.”

Kennesaw Mountain coach Caleb Carmean – “We are looking to continue to build quality depth and create competition between each position group.”

Dunwoody coach Mike Nash -“A little of both, but as I’ve said, we want to compete! We want to win!”

North Gwinnett coach Eric Godfree – “A little bit of both. We’re putting in a new defensive structure, so it’s gonna be important for our key guys to get a lot of reps out there, but at the same time we do bring young guys and we want them to also get in reps. It’s not a Friday night, it’s not getting counted on that, of course we want to win them all, but at the same time we need to make sure we’re preparing for the future.”

Q. What safety precautions will the staff and players be taking to maintain the health and safety of the players?

Alpharetta coach Jason Kervin – “We build our strength and conditioning for June around the 7-on-7 season. So we make sure they are ready before and we recover after. Anything after 6 games starts getting dangerous to me.  We want to sub, hydrate, warm up, eat, everything we do built around maximum performance at 7-on-7s and withstand the rigor of playing that day.”

Centennial coach Adam Miller – “For us we stress hydration to our guys and make sure we warm-up properly. We also make sure to wear guardian caps over our heads to help with safety.” 

Whitefield Coach Robert Walsh – “Our players will be wearing Guardian Caps during the event to help limit head injuries.  We will make sure they are well hydrated for the all-day event.”

East Paulding coach Van Spence -“We put player safety as our #1 focus. Tons of hydration, we will be conditioned and cautious of overuse. We will bring more numbers to keep our players fresh.”

Kennesaw Mountain coach Caleb Carmean – “The GT staff does a great job of enforcing the rules and looking out for player safety. We also are always watching our guys to make sure they are taking care of their bodies.”

Dunwoody coach Mike Nash – “We will make sure we don’t take unnecessary risks. If a guy is not 100%, we won’t play him.”

North Gwinnett coach Eric Godfree – “Part of staying healthy is getting stronger in the weight room for injury prevention. Hydration is also important, making sure the kids hydrate and take care of their bodies. It’s a tough balance, we want to push our kids to better themselves, but at the same time, we want to take care of our players.”

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