Cobb trying to match Gwinnett on football field


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Pick up your copy of the 2013 Football Preview in the print edition of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

When you look at Cobb County there’s a lot of similarities that mirror Gwinnett County. It has a large school district with 16 public high schools. Interstate 75 runs through the middle of it and it’s the home of some the state’s most well known athletes.

The biggest difference is in high school football. Gwinnett County has produced the last three state champions in the highest classification. Cobb hasn’t won a state title in 45 years.

It’s a major statistic that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Cobb coaches.

“As Cobb coaches, we talk about that. We want to win a state championship. Specifically, I want to win a state championship,” Walton’s Rocky Hidalgo said. “It is something that kind of hangs in the air in Cobb County. I think we keep getting closer every year. I think sometime over the next few years you’ll see a Cobb school (win it).”

Two of Gwinnett’s most recent state champions will take on two Cobb powers in today’s Corky Kell Classic.

Brookwood, the 2010 state champions, will play McEachern, while 2006 state champ Peachtree Ridge will face Walton.

“It’s a pride thing. We want to put on a good showing for Gwinnett,” Peachtree Ridge head coach Mark Fleetwood said.

Cobb County got the best of Gwinnett in the 2011 Corky Kell when three of the four games were in favor of Cobb schools. It looked like it might be a good start for the county’s first state champion since Marietta in 1967. However, Grayson defeated Walton 24-0 in the state finals to end its title dreams.

“We get compared to Gwinnett County a lot because of the size of the school districts. We want to go out there and compete and show our brand of Cobb football is as good as anybody’s around,” Hidalgo said. “Over the last 10 or 15 years, we’ve seen football in Cobb County really improve. Until we win that state championship, it’s going to be that monkey on our back.”

Brookwood and McEachern have been two of the state’s most successful programs over the last 15 years. Both schools are original members of the Corky Kell with Brookwood 11-10 all-time in the event and McEachern 9-12.

McEachern was state runner-up in 1998 and has made four straight trips to the state playoffs.

Brookwood has been to four state championships, winning two titles, and have 11 straight playoff appearances.

“You have to be ready to hit the ground running,” Crews said. “It’s a very important game as far as the start of the season.”

Peachtree Ridge is the only team in the Corky Kell that didn’t make the playoffs last year. The Lions were embarrassed in last year’s event 42-0 by Camden County. “It’s a great challenge because Walton has been one of the top teams in the state,” Fleetwood said. “It’s a chance to show where we are to start the season.”

They will face a Walton program that has been to the playoffs 11 of the last 12 years and, of course, is trying to bring that first state crown to Cobb.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to go out there and show our best programs are as good as Gwinnett County’s best programs,” Hidalgo said.