Trio of Gwinnett teams to play in Great American Football Classic

Photo by Christine Troyke

Photo by Christine Troyke

Greater Atlanta Christian is returning to the Georgia Dome for high school football, while Central and South Gwinnett are making their first appearance in the Dome.

The three Gwinnett County schools are part of a six-game series in the Great American Football Classic this fall.

"It's a great environment, great atmosphere," GAC coach Tim Cokely said.

GAC will play Westminster on Sept. 17 at 5 p.m., while Central and South will follow in the nightcap at 8 p.m. Both games were originally scheduled to be played this year, the only difference will be the location.

"Playing in the Georgia Dome is the biggest plus. Then you throw in South Gwinnett and I think it's a win-win situation," Central Gwinnett coach Todd Wofford said. "It's a big game for both of us and now playing in the Georgia Dome, the kids will remember that forever."

The other games include Lovejoy vs. Morrow and Carver-Columbus vs. LaGrange on Friday. The earlier games on Saturday are Creekside vs. Mt. Zion and Drew vs. Sandy Creek.

"The Georgia Dome is a logical place and the opportunity for players to be on the same field as the Atlanta Falcons is exciting," Football Classic Director Kristen Parker said.

Every game will broadcasted live on iHigh.com, which has hosted similar events in Indianapolis and St. Louis.

Central vs. South is the oldest rivalry in Gwinnett County and the two teams have been playing since 1957. This will be the first time the two have met at neutral location. South has won the last four straight, including 62-27 last year.

"I think it's going to be intense with anybody in our region," South Gwinnett head coach John Small said. "It doesn't matter if it's in the Dome or in the backyard. It's going to be a good game. It's a great opportunity for both schools and all the kids involved."

This will be the third time GAC has played in the Dome. The Spartans played there in 2002 and beat Early County to earn a trip to the Class A state finals. GAC lost in 1998 to Lincoln County 35-34 in what's considered one of the most exiting high school games ever at the Dome.

"(The players) were excited about it," Cokely said. "They all go to Falcons games, so it's a big deal for them."

The Georgia Dome will host three other high school football events this fall. The Corky Kell Classic will begin the season and the four-game series on Aug. 20 features Gwinnett against Cobb County teams: Grayson-Kell, Brookwood-Lassiter, North Gwinnett-McEachern and Peachtree Ridge-Walton.

The Atlanta Public Schools homecoming games will take place on Oct. 23. South Atlanta will play Lovett in the 11 a.m. opener, Carver vs. Dunwoody will follow and Washington vs. Druid Hills and Douglass vs. Mays are the final two games of the day.

The Dome will also be the site of the five state championship games for the third year.