Georgia Elite Classic: Sophomores beat Freshmen to close out Classic

Four players passed for touchdowns to lead the Sophomores over the Freshmen in the final game of the 9th annual Georgia Elite Classic at historic Barron Stadium in Rome.

Reece Fountain (Rome) was 8-of-11 passing for 136 yards and one touchdown to lead the group. Prince Ave’s Aaron Philo was 6-of-10 passing for 76 yards and two touchdowns, Walton’s Jeremy Hecklinski was 4-of-9 passing for 45 yards and a touchdown and Grayson’s JoJo Stone was 1-of-1 for 70 yards and a touchdown.

Sacovie White (Cass) had five receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown. John Cineas (Grayson) had one reception for a touchdown (70 yards) and Hunter Teal (Walton) made one reception for a touchdown. On the ground, Sammy Brown (Jefferson), Nate Webster (Centennial) and Javon Hobson (Cherokee) each had rushing touchdowns. On defense, Ashton Woods (Walton) had five solo, four assisted tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss with one interception. Parker Shattuck (LaGrange) made four solo, two assisted tackles with one sack and a forced fumble.

For the Freshmen, Creekview quarterback Austin Guest was 6-of-13 passing for 112 yards and two touchdowns and Appling County’s Dayson Griffis was 4-of-12 passing for 71 yards and a touchdown. Woodward’s Josiah Abdullah scored on passes of 70 (Griffis) and 50 yards (Guest). Houston County’s Antwann Hill was 12-of-18 passing for 80 yards. On defense, Thomas County Central’s Kendarius Reddick led with four tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovered and returned 71 yards.

To see full stats from all three games follow the LINK.

Georgia Elite Classic: Juniors over Seniors in second game of the day

The Junior Team was never really challenged in the 37-7 victory over the seniors in the second game of the Georgia Elite Classic at historic Barron Stadium in Rome. Beginning with Mack Mikko’s 45-yard field goal early in the game which – because of Georgia Elite Classic rules – gave four points to the underclassmen, the Juniors never let up.

DJ Rogers (Pepperell) put the Juniors up 11-0 on a 14-yard run with 8:52 left in the second quarter. The Senior team’s only offensive production, a 14-yard touchdown pass from Brayden Mauldin (Paulding County) to LaShaun Lester (Chattooga), cut into the lead 11-7 but the juniors controlled the remainder of the game. 

Levi Linowes (Riverwood) caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Dylan Mayers (Holy Innocents’) to put the Juniors up 17-7 with 12:03 left in the third quarter. Just before the end of the third quarter, Rogers scored on a 3-yard run to push the lead to 24-7. Josh Brockman’s 21-yard field goal with 10:24 left in the game put the lead to 27-7. On the next play, Branden Strozier (St. Francis)  intercepted a pass and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown. Mack Mikko’s (Heritage) 33-yard field goal brought the score to its final tally. 

Rogers had 10 carries for 70 yards and two touchdowns to lead the juniors. Mayers was 5-of-9 passing for 29 yards and a touchdown. Linowes finished with two  receptions for 21 yards and a touchdown. On defense, Gabe Harris led with five solo tackles, three assists, 3.5 sacks and one forced fumble. 

For the seniors, Mauldin was 6-of-9 passing for 53 yards and a touchdown. Cole Spence (Pisgah) had three receptions for 33 yards and Lester had one reception for a touchdown to lead senior receivers. 

You can watch the other two Georgia Elite Classic All Star Games by following the link or check out the GEC Scoreboard.

Georgia Elite Classic: 8th Grade Americans use balanced, consistent scoring to overwhelm National team

Three players – Kota Suttle (Holy Innocents’), Hunter White (Calhoun) and Jameel Frederick (Cedartown) – scored on touchdown runs. Suttle’s 2-yard touchdown run in the first quarter put the Americans up 7-0 and when Frederick scored on a 4-yard run early in the second quarter, it pushed the lead to 14-0.

Two receivers – Jude Cascone (Marist) and Tayshaun Franklin (Ware County) – caught touchdown passes. Cascone gave the Americans a 21-0 lead on a 63-yard touchdown reception from St. Francis quarterback Teddy Jarrard with 9:20 left before the half. Franklin’s 25-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Mary Persons Mac Nelson. Hunter White scored the American’s final two touchdowns on a 44-yard fumble recovery returned for a touchdown with 6:26 left in the third quarter and a 26-yard run with :36 left in the third quarter.

Suttle and White each had nine carries for 58 yards and a touchdown. Frederick had seven carries for 47 yards and a touchdown. Jarrard was 5-of-7 passing for 133 yards and a touchdown. Cascone made three receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown. On defense, Noah LaVallee had five solo tackles, four assists and three tackles for loss. Franklin had three solo and three assisted tackles. Alec Upshaw made two solo tackles, one assisted and 1.5 tackles for loss.

You can watch the other two Georgia Elite Classic All Star Games by following the link or check out the GEC Scoreboard. 

Players to watch at Ninth Annual Georgia Elite Classic

The ninth annual Georgia Elite Classic will feature a triple-header of all-star football games on Wednesday, Dec. 22 at Rome’s Barron Stadium and will showcase top talent from the state’s next five graduating classes. The Class of 2026 will take the field in the opening 8th Grade Game at 10 am and it will be the first middle school all-star game to ever be broadcasted on television. PeachtreeTV will continue its live coverage with the Class of 2022 and Class of 2023 squaring off in the Seniors vs. Juniors game at 12:45 p.m and then the Sophomores faceoff with the Freshmen in the grand finale at 3:30 p.m. and will represent the Class of 2024 and Class of 2025.

More than 1,200 college football players appeared in the classic prior to their collegiate careers since the inaugural 2013 edition and the spotlight continues growing exponentially. Additionally, the games have been exceptionally competitive over the event’s history and the leadership at Georgia Elite Classic have built another year of outstanding lineups. Representing the Seniors will be, Class of 2022 quarterbacks Jake Parker (Cartersville), Brayden Mauldin (Paulding County) and Jett Miller (Wesleyan). Parker led the Purple Hurricanes to an undefeated regular season, Mauldin is fresh off a 2,643-yard passing season with 20 touchdowns through the air and Miller threw for 2,289 yards and was named Gwinnett Daily Post Offensive Player of the Week following a 401-yard, 5-touchdown performance against Loganville Christian. The Seniors will have plenty of talent at receiver with Creekview’s Tristan Summers (38-583-6), Cartersville’s Jacob Ray (16-422-5), Cherokee Bluff’s Marlion Jackson (45-636-10), Cambridge’s Carson Kent (14-248-4), Dalton’s Karim Page and Mt. Pisgah tight end Cole Spence (55-957-5). The backfield will feature White County running back Silas Mulligan (219-1039-9) and Chattooga’s Lashaun Lester (143-927-10). Athletes Caleb Thompson (Darlington) and Georgia Southern-commit Marc Stampley II (Starr’s Mill) will bolster the firepower of the Seniors. The offensive line includes talent like Jarvis Germany of Mary Persons, a 6-foot-3, 320-pound, First-Team All-Region selection. Defensively, the Seniors boast Johns Creek’s Andrew Guth—who helped led the Gladiators’ defensive line this season with 82 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and six sacks. Central Gwinnett linebacker Lassana Simaga posted 127 tackles in just 10 games this season and Mill Creek cornerback Jayvon Henderson had 34 tackles, four interceptions, three tackles for loss and one forced fumble.

The Junior team will offer an incredible look at the Class of 2023 and Stephens County quarterback Ben Stowe will be under center after throwing for 1,647 yards and 12 touchdowns this season to go with his eight rushing scores. Stowe will have his top target from this season—Cam Lacy—who racked up 1,023 receiving yards and eight touchdowns off of 44 receptions. In the backfield, Pepperell’s DJ Rogers is fresh off a junior season that included 1,481 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns to go with 229 yards and three touchdown receptions and West Forsyth running back Peyton Streko is coming off a 659-yard campaign that included 11 rushing touchdowns. The offensive line will feature standouts like Darlington’s Gus Gammage—a 6-foot-5, 290-pound starter that earned Region 7-A Offensive Lineman of the Year this past season. Westminster’s Josh Brockman and Heritage School’s Mack Mikko will handle the kicking duties and are two of the most sought after kickers in the state for the Class of 2023. Defensively, the juniors will have Region 7-4A Defensive Player of the Year Eli Barrow (Cedartown) helping to lead the way.

The Georgia Elite Classic has served as a Launchpad for underclassmen over the years and the Class of 2024 has an incredible list of headliners appearing in this year’s game. At quarterback, Prince Avenue Christian’s Aaron Philo, Rome’s Reece Fountain and Walton’s Jeremy Hecklinski create the most talented group of sophomore passers to ever compete in the classic. Philo threw for 4,540 yards and 47 touchdowns this season for the Wolverines, Fountain led the Wolves to the Region 5-6A title and Hecklinski helped quarterback Walton to the Class 7A semifinals. Sammy Brown—the state’s No. 1 ranked prospect and the nation’s No. 5 ranked Class of 2024 prospect can play linebacker or running back. Mountain View’s Justin Greene is also a four-star and he will lineup on the defensive line as the No. 3 rated defensive lineman in the nation. The Sophomore offensive line features Tattnall Square’s Web Davidson—who was recently offered by Michigan State and Adidas All-American Parker McClendon of McEachern. Schley County’s Jalewis Solomon will help lead the receivers after posting 61 catches for 989 yards and 13 touchdowns this season

The Freshmen will offer another first-hand look at the state’s top underclassmen talent with some of the best Class of 2025 prospects in the country. Quarterback Antwann Hill (Houston County) is 6-foot-4, 205 pounds and has already been offered by UGA and Texas A&M. Hill will share snaps with dual threat quarterback Austin Guest of Creekview. Running back Chance Arthur took 72 carries for 284 yards and four touchdowns this season for Kennesaw Mountain and Commerce running back Jaiden Daniels accounted for 1,640 all-purpose yards this season. Arthur and Daniels are joined by Cedar Grove’s Bo Walker and Fellowship Christian’s TJ Lester. Woodward Academy wide receiver Josiah Abdullah had 19 catches for 188 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman this season and has already been offered by Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh. Additionally, Westlake’s Juan Gaston will be on the offensive line and is a 6-foot-8, 320-pounder that started for the Lions this season.

In the 8th Grade Game, the dynamic Harrison Faulker, who is a Class of 2026 prospect heading to North Oconee, will be taking the field with Mac Nelson of Mary Persons and Teddy Jarrad of St. Francis. The middle school games have been a staple of the Georgia Elite Classic lineup over the years and televising this year’s game offers an incredible opportunity to witness Georgia’s future gridiron stars compete.

The Games will also be streamed digitally on CBS46.com. For more information visit GeorgiaEliteClassic.com

2021 Georgia Elite Class Schedule

10:00 AM        ELITE 8TH GRADE KICKOFF

12:45 PM         ELITE SENIORS & JUNIORS KICKOFF

3:30 PM           ELITE SOPHOMORES & FRESHMEN KICKOFF

Georgia Elite Classic: Sophomores 49, Freshman 35

After falling behind 21-7 to the Freshman team with 7:01 left in the second quarter, the Sophomores rallied and outscored the youngsters 42-14 in the remaining time to win the nightcap game of the Georgia Elite Classic at Rome’s Barron Stadium.

The Sophomores rushed for six touchdowns on the night and South Paulding running back Jamarion Wilcox led with 16 carries for 124 yards and three touchdowns. He scored on runs of 11, three and one yard. Pepperell running back DJ Rogers had seven carries for 63 yards and three touchdowns. Rogers scored on runs of 36, 14 and four yards.

The Freshman controlled the pace early, taking the lead on a 2-yard touchdown run by Dougherty running back Kam Davis with 6:36 left in the first quarter. Following Roger’s 36-yard touchdown run, the Freshman responded with 21-yard touchdown pass from Walton quarterback Jeremy Hecklinski to Campbell receiver Terrence Kiel with 11:41 left before half. Commerce running back Sammy Brown gave the Freshman the 21-7 lead on a 7-yard run but touchdowns by Wilcox and Rogers would tie the game just before halftime.

Cass quarterback Devin Henderson passed to Wilcox’s BJ Gibson for a 13-yard touchdown with 6:29 left in the third, but the Sophomores seized momentum with three touchdowns in a row. The Sophomores started with a Rogers run with 3:54 left in the third quarter, a Wilcox run right at the end of the third quarter and a 40-yard touchdown pass from Mill Creek quarterback Hayden Clark to River Ridge tight end Jackson Head.

The Freshman defense forced a fumble and Bradwell offensive tackle Elyjah Thurmon recovered it in the endzone for a touchdown to cut into the lead 42-35. But Wilcox’s 3-yard run with 2:28 left put the game away.

The Sophomores totaled 389 yards of offense and 228 rushing yards on 33 carries. The Freshman gained 358 yards of offense, 258 passing and 100 rushing yards.

South Paulding sophomore quarterback Kasen Weisman was 4-of-8 passing for 104 yards while rushing for 30 yards on four carries. Mill Creek quarterback Hayden Clark was 4-of-8 passing for 55 yards and a touchdown for the sophomores. Head had six receptions for 48 yards and a touchdown. Putnam County’s Darrell Bland had two receptions for 56 yards.

On defense, Whitefield Academy linebacker Caleb Lavelle led with seven solo tackles, five assists and 2.5 tackles for a loss. St. Pius X defensive back Jack Tchienchou had six tackles and two assists.

The Freshman quarterbacks were extremely efficient and were a combined 23-of-32 passing for 258 yards and two touchdowns with just one interception. Henderson was 8-of-9 passing for 107 yards and a touchdown. Hecklinski was 8-of-14 passing for 93 yards and a touchdown and Rome’s Reece Fountain was 7-of-9 passing for 58 yards.

Gibson and Kiel each had three receptions and one touchdown to lead the receiving corps. On the ground, Davis led with 18 carries for 84 yards and a touchdown. Brown had 19 carries for 55 yards and a touchdown. On defense, Roswell defensive lineman Chase Morrison led with four tackles and one tackle for a loss while Parkview defensive back Zion Ferguson made three tackles.

Georgia Elite Classic: Juniors 28, Seniors 24

Juniors 28, Seniors 24

When the game was on the line, a trio of Cherokee juniors helped protect the lead and pull the Junior team past the Seniors 28-24 in the second game of the day at the Georgia Elite Classic at Rome’s Barron Stadium.

Trailing 24-21, Roswell quarterback Robbie Roper gave the Juniors the 28-24 lead with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Mount Pisgah receiver Cole Spence. And when the Juniors faced a 3rd-and-9 at their own 15-yard line, Cherokee quarterback AJ Swann passed Cherokee’s junior wide out Adarrius Harshaw to get the first down to the 37-yard line.

Following the 2-minute warning, Cherokee back Keith Adams Jr. sealed the victory with a 21-yard first down run which sealed the victory.

The Seniors led early on a 1-yard touchdown run from Philip Johnson to cap a 5-play 70-yard drive. The Juniors tied the game on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Roper to Walton receiver Rawson MacNeill, capping a 10-play, 60-yard drive. Carrollton running back Christian Lett put the seniors up 14-7 with a 52-yard touchdown run with 14:53 left in the second half. But CJ Washington, a junior defensive end from Cedartown, tied the game with a 2-yard touchdown run with 11:11 before the half.

Cass’ senior kicker Kaleb Speights kicked a 33-yard field goal just before the half. Riverwood’s Jonathan Brown gave the Seniors the 24-21 lead with a 33-yard interception return with 9:49 left in the game but Spence’s game-winning reception proved the difference.

The Juniors amassed 370 yards of offense (220 passing, 150 rushing) and outgained the Seniors (300, 146 passing, 154 rushing) by 70 yards. Roper was an efficient 6-of-7 passing for 71 yards and two touchdowns. Swann was 8-of-10 for 115 yards and one touchdown. MacNeill had five receptions for 113 yards and two touchdowns to lead the junior receivers. Adams had 13 carries for 58 yards and Washington had three carries for 16 yards and a touchdown. Putnam County back Cedrion Brundage had 11 carries for 40 yards. On defense, Hardaway lineman Mykel Williams impressed with five solo tackles and six assists with 3.5 tackles for loss. Marietta linebacker Daniel Martin made four tackles with two assists.

Mountain View quarterback Nathan Payne was 6-of-7 passing for 91 yards and Sonoraville quarterback Brady Lackey was 3-of-6 passing for 55 yards. Lett led the seniors in the backfield with eight carries for 80 yards and a touchdown. Rockmart’s Javin Whatley had eight carries for 58 yards. Central Gwinnett wide out Mekhi Mews had three receptions for 66 yards and Clarke Central’s Justin Hodges had two catches for 52 yards. On defense for the Seniors, South Gwinnett linebacker Dwayne Johnson led with six solo tackle and five assists with three tackles for loss. Lanier linebacker Rylan Serna made four tackles, seven assists and two tackles for a loss. Riverwood lineman Jonathan Brown made three tackles with three assists and 2.5 tackles for loss and an interception. Whitefield Academy Myles Redding made an interception for the Seniors.

Follow the LINK for full stats and follow the link HERE to watch the Georgia Elite Classic.

Georgia Elite Classic: Middle School Nationals 32, Middle School Americans 12

The Middle School National Team (red) won the first game at the Georgia Elite Classic 32-12 over the American Team (blue) on Sunday at Rome’s Barron Stadium and it did it in a multitude of ways. The Nationals scored in nearly all facets of the game to secure the victory.

The Nationals took a 12-0 lead after the first quarter on touchdown runs by Stephens County athlete Javin Gordon on a 9-yard run and by Couch Middle cornerback Jaylen Bell on a fumble returned 10 yards for a touchdown. The Americans scored on a 43-yard interception return by Banks County running back Jaiden Daniels with 11:48 left in the second quarter, but Gordon put the Nationals up 18-6 on a 3-yard touchdown run with 3:36 left before half. At the end of the third quarter, Blessed Trinity quarterback Brooks Goodman put the Nationals up 24-6 on a 9-yard touchdown pass to Bryce Lewis.

Blessed Trinity tight end Aidrian Forbes caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Bremen quarterback Mason Mims with 3:33 left in the game to give the Red Team a 32-6 lead. Daniels caught a 67-yard touchdown pass from Carrollton quarterback John Robert Harris with 2:10 left in the game but time ran out for the American team.

Gordon had eight carries for 80 yards and two touchdowns to lead the National team on the ground. Bowdon back Luke Windom had five carries for 48 yards, including a 27-yard scamper. Mims was 4-of-10 passing for 66 yards and one touchdown. Goodman was 1-of-3 passing for nine yards and a touchdown. Lewis had two receptions for 40 yards and a touchdown. Forbes had one reception for 17 yards and a touchdown and Nick Richardson made two receptions for 18 yards. Fort Valley kicker Peyton Joseph averaged 26.8 yards per kick on six kicks. On defense, Freedom linebacker Dylan Torrico made three solo tackles and one tackle for loss. Gordon also had three tackles and one for a loss.

Harris was 1-of-4 passing for 67 yards and one touchdown for the Americans. Mossy Creek wide out Kory Pettigrew caught two passes for 17 yards and Daniels had one reception for 67 yards and a touchdown. Marist kicker Jude Cascone kicked off three times and averaged 42.3 yards per kick. On defense, Commerce’s Jacari Huff led with five solo tackles with one assist. Commerce defensive tackle Jeremiah Mintz made four tackles, one for a loss, with one sack. Whitefield running back Charles Sharpe made three tackles and three assists. Daniels had three tackles and one for a loss.

For full stats on this game follow the LINK.

Go HERE to watch the afternoon games.

2020 Georgia Elite Classic Sets to Feature State’s Top Talent

The eighth annual Georgia Elite Classic, brought to you by “The Hamilton Hotel”, will stage a trio of All-Star games this Sunday at Rome’s Barron Stadium that will be broadcasted live on PeachtreeTV. Over the past seven editions of the Classic, more than 900 players that participated in the games went on to play college football, and this year’s rosters will once again feature the state’s premier talent. The competitiveness of the games will also get a boost under the new format adopted for this year’s games. For the first time, graduating classes will be going head-to-head with a Seventh vs. Eighth Grade, Freshmen vs. Sophomores and Juniors vs. Seniors game. 

Recruiting Expert and Georgia Elite Classic Director of Player Personnel Rusty Mansell offered his insight on some of the talented players set to star in this year’s games and how the matchups could play out. 

The Senior Team’s trio of running backs stand out to Mansell, who says that this group of Class of 2021 ball carriers are big backs with the ability to succeed at the next level. This includes Temple’s Phillip Jonson, Carrollton’s Christian Lett and Rome’s EJ Lackey.  Johnson is 6-foot-1, 220 pounds and racked up 1,312 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns this year with the Tigers. As for the senior defense, Mansell points to the defensive line where Riverwood’s Johnathan brown and Greenbrier’s Beau Shugarts are expected to make a major impact. 

The Juniors will have an opportunity to make a statement when they take on the seniors. Leading at the quarterback position will be Cherokee’s AJ Swann—a multi-year starter and three-star that threw 21 touchdowns this season. Swann will have plenty of targets to throw to—including Mansell’s sleeper performer in Southeast Bulloch’s Tyler Griffin. The 6-foot-5 wide receiver will create mismatches and has already received offers from Colorado, Georgia Tech, Virginia and Virginia Tech. On the defensive side, Cedartown defensive end CJ Washington is returning to the Classic after earning the Defensive MVP in last year’s Sophomore Game. Walton defensive backs AJ Brown and Marcus Allen will lead the secondary. Brown is a three-star prospect and Allen has already received 19 collegiate offers. At linebacker, Marietta’s Daniel Martin is a 6-foot-3, four-star prospect that is currently rated as the nation’s No. 5 ranked outside linebacker for the Class of 2022. 

Sunday’s finale will showcase top prospects from the Class of 2023 and Class of 2024 in the Sophomore vs. Freshmen game. Mansell believes that the wide receivers and defensive line could prove to be the strength of the Sophomore Team roster. Thomas County Central defensive lineman Gabe Harris is back after participating in last year’s Freshmen game. Harris is a 6-foot-4, 235-pound prospect that averaged 4.4 tackles per game this season with the Yellow Jackets. Lining up alongside Harris is Mansell’s sleeper pick for a breakout performance: Tattnall Academy’s Zavian Hardy. The 6-foot-6 sophomore is a two-star prospect with tremendous potential to rise up the recruiting ranks. Additionally, Thomas County Central receiver Adam Hopkins led the Yellow Jackets this season with 387 receiving yards and a team-high six touchdowns. Hopkins is joined out wide by Hart County receiver Paul Davis—a 6-foot-3, three-sport athlete for the Bulldogs. 

The Freshmen Team has its own set of strengths heading into kickoff and Mansell says that the size lining up on the offensive line far exceeds what one would expect from a group of ninth graders. This includes offensive tackle Web Davidson out of Tattnall Academy—who Mansell says showcases outstanding upside and footwork for his 6-foot-4 frame. Taking advantage of the size up front will be a young, but experienced tandem of running backs with Commerce’s Sammy Brown and Doughetry’s Kam Davis. Brown finished his breakout freshman season with 133 carries for 1,368 yards and 19 total touchdowns. Commerce has been playing football since 1909 and Brown became just the 32nd player in the school’s history to surpass the 1,000-yard mark for a season. Dougherty played just five games this year as a result of its abbreviated season and Davis racked up a team-high 554 rushing yards and five touchdowns. The size of the offensive line and talent in the Freshmen Team’s backfield will compliment a trio of up-and-coming quarterbacks: Rome’s Reece Fountain, Walton’s Jeremy Hecklinski and Cass’s Devin Henderson. Fountain passed for 1,085 yards and eight touchdowns this season, Hecklinski threw five touchdowns and Cass has been described by his head coach Steve Gates as “mature beyond his years and a leader that is going to be one of the best he’s ever coached.”

In the middle school game, quarterback Antwann Hill Jr. is a promising young passer poised to play at Houston County at the varsity level. Another player to watch according to Mansell is seventh grade linebacker Grayson Villar. Mansell calls Villar a wrecking ball out on the field that has an opportunity to set the tone with his physical style of play.

2020 GEORGIA ELITE CLASSIC SCHEDULE

At Rome’s Barron Stadium

SUNDAY, DEC. 20

Eighth Grade & Seventh Grade [10 am]

Juniors vs. Seniors [1 pm]

Freshmen vs. Sophomores [3:45 pm]

Georgia Elite Classic to be televised on PeachtreeTV, games moving to Rome’s Barron Stadium

By Craig Sager II

The 2020 Georgia Elite Classic, brought to you by “The Hamilton Hotel”, will be broadcasted on television for the first time since the event’s inaugural game in 2013 and the event will be hosted exclusively in Rome, moving from McEachern High School. The Classic’s two high school All-Star Games will be shown on PeachtreeTV and are going to be debuting several other new features that have been put in place to ensure a safe, competitive and first-class experience for all of this year’s participants.

“The fact that the high school games are going to be on TV on an NFL Sunday is huge,’’ said Score Atlanta president I.J. Rosenberg, whose company owns the Georgia Elite Classis as well as other events such as the Corky Kell Classic and Great Atlanta Bash. “Because PeachtreeTV is the original Superstation and is so easy for anyone to find, these players are going to get a lot of visibility and this is the year they really need it. The games will also be on a digital platform where everyone, anywhere will be able to watch. I can’t tell you how many players this year received offers after playing well at Corky Kell.’’

The new title sponsor of the Georgia Elite Classic is “The Hamilton Hotel”, a swanky boutique hotel that will open in downtown Alpharetta in 2021.

After playing at McEachern High School the past seven years, the City of Rome has stepped up to host this year’s Classic with all three of its games set to be played at historic Barron Stadium. Because the stadium is within walking distance of the team hotels, there will be only minimal use of buses as the players will also be able to walk to the Forum River Center Arena for the two dinners, SEC Championship Game Watch Party as well as the city’s welcome party.

Over the years, the Georgia Elite Classic’s lineup has grown in terms of the number of games played—but due to the football season being delayed and other factors such as concerns over player safety amidst COVID-19, this year’s lineup will consist of a middle school matchup on Sunday Dec. 20 before it concludes on Sunday with a double-header that will feature Seniors vs. Juniors in the 1 p.m. game and Sophomores vs. Freshmen in the 3:45 p.m. slot.

247Sports Recruiting Expert Rusty Mansell is the Director of Player Personnel for the Georgia Elite Classic and he describes the new location and format as being able to provide a bubble-like atmosphere that will deliver the safest possible environment. Mansell and the rest of the Georgia Elite Classic leadership team which includes Score Atlanta have shaped their safety protocols after successful executing the state’s premier kickoff event, the Corky Kell Classic and the Great Atlanta Bash earlier this season.

In previous years, there were grade-specific games at the high school level, but this new format that stages Freshmen vs. Sophomores and Juniors vs. Seniors in a double-header will scale down the number of participants from more than 520 to closer to 200 with rosters of approximately 45 players for each class. Holding the event in Rome comes with logistical advantages as well. Unlike previous years where players were bussed back-and-forth between the hotel and McEachern for practices and game day, the Rome location eliminates the need for buses. Instead, the high school players will have what Mansell describes as a “Bowl Game” experience and they will be staying in three separate hotels adjacent to the facilities that are in walking distance to the fields.

The City of Rome has graciously partnered with the Georgia Elite Classic and is opening the doors of its 21,000 square foot Forum River Center Arena to be used for registration, as well as hosting dinners and a SEC Championship Watch Party Saturday night for all of the high schoolers playing in Sunday’s games. After the players check in on Friday at the Forum, there will also be a Pep Rally held at a local church that will have a live DJ and food for all of the players.

While invitations are continuing to be shipped out, this year’s Classic will have one more unique circumstance that Mansell and the Classic have prepared for. The date of this year’s Georgia Elite Classic coincides with the state semifinals. It took special permission from GHSA Executive Director Dr. Robin Hines to grant the Classic the ability to hold the event on Dec. 18-20, and so Mansell has made sure to include in all invitations that players should be focusing completely on their high school seasons and not to think about this year’s Classic should they find themselves on teams that make it to that stage of the playoffs.

Rosenberg, who implemented the protocols in September’s Corky Kell Classic, managing games on television at nine different high school stadiums over a four-day period, said this year’s Classic will be unique to the last seven ones.

“We learned a lot from Corky, that for the most part our mandatory masks policy at the games worked,’’ said Rosenberg. “We will be doing the same for Elite in Rome. Also, when the players are not on the field practicing or playing the game, they will be wearing masks that we provide them. Rusty and I thought long and hard about cancelling the games but like Corky, we feel it is important to move forward but be very careful in how we do it. Covid is not going away any time soon so we continue to work towards playing in a safe environment. Also, a lot of these kids are not getting the looks from colleges they usually would during a normal season. These games give them an opportunity to play against the best in Georgia and send the tape to colleges.’’

2020 GEORGIA ELITE CLASSIC SCHEDULE

At Rome’s Barron Stadium

SUNDAY, DEC. 20

Eighth Grade & Seventh Grade [10 am]

Juniors vs. Seniors [1 pm]

Freshmen vs. Sophomores [3:45 pm]

247Sports recruiting expert Rusty Mansell to pick teams; Georgia Elite Classic to play All-Star Games in Rome Dec. 18-20

Moving into the eighth year of All-Star matchups for high school and middle school players in the state, Covid-19 protocols will be in place as the Georgia Elite Classic will host three middle school games and two high school games on Dec. 18-20 (Friday-Sunday) in Rome at renowned Barron Stadium. The high school All-Star Games will be played on Sunday, Dec. 20, and feature the best high school freshmen in the state facing the top sophomores as well as a game between top juniors and seniors. Rusty Mansell of 247Sports will pick all the high school players and send out invites. High School players will report Friday afternoon, Dec. 18, and all players will STAY IN SINGLE ROOMS for two nights. If you want to be considered for the high school games, Click Here for the nomination form. If you have received an invitation from Rusty, Click Here to register. The middle schools players will report on Friday morning, Dec. 18, and play their games on Saturday, Dec. 19. If you are a 6th, 7th or 8th grader, Click Here to register to play in  the games. The middle school package does not include hotel rooms but Rome is offering discounts on rooms for players and family members for Dec. 18. If you have any questions on the games, you can call Graham David at 513-600-6557 or I.J. Rosenberg at 404-246-7819.  The GeorgiaEliteClassic.com website will be completely updated Monday with more information including a schedule of events in Rome.