Corky Kell Preview: Sandy Creek vs. Creekview

Sandy Creek and Creekview square off for the first time in school history as they open the 2015 Metro PCS Corky Kell Classic. Sandy Creek made a statement in last year’s season opener with a 21-13 victory over Class AAAAAA’s top-ranked team, Archer, en route to another double-digit winning season (11-2). Sandy Creek head coach Chip Walker took over for his father Rodney in 2005 and has compiled an 110-19-1 record in his 11 seasons. Since 2008, the team has gone 89-6-1. The Fighting Patriots captured three state titles from 2009-2012 and have been nearly unstoppable in the regular season. Last year’s 28-7 loss to Woodward Academy snapped a 44-game winning streak in region play and was the team’s first region defeat since 2007.

Creekview is a young program that started competition in 2006 but has been consistent throughout its nine seasons with just one losing season. Veteran coach Terry Crowder, who enters his third year with the program, leads the Grizzlies. Prior to coaching at Creekview, Crowder spent nine seasons as Chattahoochee’s head coach, including 2010 where his team finished 15-0 and claimed the Class AAAA state championship.

Sandy Creek enters 2015 without running back and current Ole Miss Rebel Eric Swinney, who rushed for 1,842 yards last season with 21 total touchdowns. Junior Jaelon Greene will get the first look as a featured tailback and will split time with fellow juniors Marvin Hubbard and Drezyn Parson. Parson carried the ball 57 times for 278 yards and two scores while Hubbard had 28 touches for 167 yards and three touchdowns. Greene saw just 14 carries for 53 yards.

Five time Pro- Bowler and wide receiver for the Detroit Lions, Calvin Johnson, was a former standout on the Sandy Creek team. Johnson had his number 81 retired in 2010. The Patriots have produced some of the state’s biggest stars in recent years. Andrew Gardner, offensive tackle for the Eagles, was a teammate of Johnson’s at both Sandy Creek and Georgia Tech. Kedric Golston (DE, Redskins) and Rajion Neal (RB, Packers) are also current NFL players from Sandy Creek High School.

It could be a breakout year for senior wideout Korey Banks, who led the team with 542 yards on 34 catches in 2014.  Banks is tabbed as an athlete, with the ability to play both cornerback and wide receiver at the college level. He is a three-star prospect and made his commitment to North Carolina on July 20. On defense, recent graduates Trent Sellers and Javonte Lain will begin their college careers at Georgia Tech and Old Dominion, respectively. Senior linebacker Elijah Gilmore led the team in tackles last year with a total of 81. Gilmore recorded 10 tackles in the season opening win over Archer last year. The secondary is loaded with talent headlined by seniors Banks, Javon Jackson and linebacker Will Harper. Jackson, a free safety, finished last season with 58 total tackles and led the Patriots with six interceptions. Harper has committed to play at Syracuse and is projected to be an outside linebacker.

Creekview will have senior Kyle Wilkie returning at starting quarterback. Wilkie threw for 2,338 yards and added 446 rushing yards on his way to 27 total touchdowns. Wilkie’s top target in 2014, Dawson Ewers, graduated after catching 46 passes for 894 yards and nine scores.  Juniors Trevor Kolb, Trenton Carerre and Brian Davis are expected to start out wide this year. Andy Davis is a highly thought of freshman who will have chances to impress early on in his career.

Running back B.J. Smith graduated after totaling 900 rushing yards a year ago and sophomore Shane Rodman will be asked to become an offensive leader in the backfield.

On the defensive side of the ball, the team lost six seniors who played every game last year. The Grizzlies defense will be missing standouts Zack Chester, Chase Brooks and Walter Grogan II. Brooks had an impressive 110 total tackles last season and led the team in tackles for loss with 14. Chester tallied 72 solo tackles his senior season and finished with 128 total tackles from the defensive end position. Linebacker Dylan Carl and cornerback Nolan Knox, who combined for 163 tackles last year, will spearhead this year’s Creekview defense.

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