Corky Kell Preview: Tucker vs. McEachern

The final game of the 24th Annual Metro PCS Corky Kell Classic will pin Tucker and McEachern in a rematch of last year’s state quarterfinals. In their Nov. 29 showdown, McEachern tattooed Tucker’s history books with a 62-36 victory, the most points given up by the Tigers in program history. McEachern quarterback Bailey Hockman was only a sophomore last season, but finished with another memorable performance, lighting up the Tigers on 16 of 25 passing for 438 yards and four touchdowns. McEachern strung together explosive play after explosive play, including a monster game by wide receiver T.J. Rahming (now at Duke). Rahming caught seven passes for 258 yards and two touchdowns and added a 77-yard punt return for a touchdown.

McEachern returns a wealth of talent and is once again in the conversation as a state title contender. The unquestioned leader of the defensive side of the ball is five-star senior defensive tackle Julian Rochester, who is committed to at UGA next fall. “He’s a once in a career type of player as a coach and he makes everyone around him better”, said head coach Kyle Hockman. Rochester is joined on the D-line by senior defensive tackle Andrew Tarver.  Tarver is committed to Florida International. The Indians’ secondary is led by senior free safety Bryan Okeh, who is considered as the quarterback of the defense by his coach.  Other impact players on defense include linebacker Xavier Reddick and defensive backs CJ Miller and Jaytlin Askew, who as underclassmen have gained multiple D1 offers.  Askew is a new transfer from Douglas County and has recently picked up offers from Auburn, Nebraska and Texas A&M as a four-star prospect.

An injury to five-star running back Taj Griffin (Oregon) in last year’s Corky Kell Classic forced the Indians’ offense became more designed around Hockman and the pass.  team featured “a pass oriented offense that would set up the running game.”  Tyler Smith (four-star junior), CJ Windham (MTSU-commit) and tight end Christian Roberson (Mississippi State-commit) are all back after big 2014 seasons. Smith comes off of a sophomore campaign where he caught 60 passes for 1,142 yards and 19 touchdowns. Hockman gained another weapon to throw to in wide receiver transfer Tyler Simmons, who is a four-star prospect coming in from New Manchester High School in Douglasville, Ga.

Even though the Indians’ offense more is focused on passing, senior running back and Georgia Southern-commit Sam Jackson helps create great balance.  Jackson was thrusted into the starting role after Griffin’s injury and flourished, gaining 804 yards and scoring eight touchdowns.

A year after moving up a classification to Region 2-AAAAAA, Tucker comes off a 10-3 season. Tucker sailed through region play undefeated before a 10-game winning streak was snapped by McEachern’s 62-36 win. Going into his fourth season, head coach Bryan Lamar has won at least 10 games each year and has totaled a 34-7 record. Since the new millennium, Tucker has been the premier program in the metro Atlanta area, going 171-25 including state titles in 2008 and 2011, all while never losing more than three games in a single season.

Offensively, the Tigers will have to deal with the loss of leading rusher Delvin Weems, who racked up 1,293 yards and 21 touchdowns last season. The next man up will be junior Samuel Bryant. Quarterback Garrett Rigby, a dual-threat athlete who threw for 1,014 yards and 15 touchdowns with only four interceptions and rushed for 320 yards and three scores is back. Rigby’s favorite weapon, Akeam Peters, a three-star athlete that can star in a variety of roles returns. Peters plays both sides of the ball, as a safety on defense and was tied for second on the team in tackles last season with 54 to go along with his six interceptions.

The Tigers’ defensive general will be senior defensive end Tabarius Peterson.  Peterson is a Louisville-commit and notched 44 tackles and five tackles for loss last season. The Tigers have called in transfer defensive lineman Cecil Stallings, who stands at 6-foot-6 270 pounds.  Stallings is a South Carolina-commit and will join the effort to disrupt McEachern’s potent offense.



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