Excitement builds for the inaugural Corky Kell + Dave Hunter Classic 7-on-7 Flag Football Tournament

Flag football has substantially grown in popularity since the Georgia High School Association sanctioned it in 2020 and now, it is one of the fastest-growing sports in high school athletics.

With its popularity growing with no stop in sight, the Corky Kell + Dave Hunter Classic 7-on-7 Flag Football Tournament was created to give these players and coaches a spotlight and more exposure for their teams that have helped make the sport what it is today.

“I think it’s very exciting,” said Lithia Springs head flag football coach Kendra Pleasants. “I know that for football, they have been doing it for years so this is a great opportunity to see the flag football programs and we get to be a part of it. I think the girls are excited, the coaches are excited and I think it is going to be a really good experience for everyone,” she added.

The sport began with around 80 participating schools back in 2020. Now in 2024, the sport has ascended to having over 250 schools with a flag football program and its own Corky Kell + Dave Hunter 7-on-7 tournament with teams from all over the state competing.

Coaches whose teams will be featured in the event have expressed their excitement due to the amount of exposure their players will be receiving during the competition.

“It’s going to provide that spotlight,” said Newton flag football head coach Steven Gunn. “It’s going to put Georgia even more on the map, because we play at a different time than all of the other states play. To be able to give those girls the spotlight, to put us out there, a lot of college coaches are going to be able to come to view our teams and just get to see a lot of female athletes in the state. This is going to put all of the best athletes in the state together in one place, so that these college coaches can see how well they compete against other top notch programs around the state.”

The event itself is a direct correlation to how much flag football has grown in the state of Georgia since it was sanctioned. The inaugural event shows that flag football has grown into an exciting iteration of the sport and has gained enough interest for players and teams to compete in their own tournament.

“Being in the Corky Kell + Dave Hunter Classic 7-on-7 Flag Football Tournament is a clear message to all of the programs in the state that the girl’s flag is growing exponentially,” said Milton head flag football coach Clark Nixon. “It is an incredible sport to watch and be a part of, and flag football is here to stay as a major sport in Georgia.”

Growth is a major theme that coaches continue to mention and want to see out of their teams. This tournament gives the teams a chance to compete against other programs before the upcoming season in the fall.

“Two years ago, we lost in the state championship and then lost 12 seniors. Last season, with mostly sophomores, we lost in the first round of the state playoffs,” said Nixon. “Now we get to see how we as a team deal with adversity. I’m looking for the desire to get 1% better every play, every game, and hoping to see a team culture that exemplifies a love for the game and working together to get better with every rep.”

Though the sport is still relatively new, the popularity continues to soar as more and more teams continue to join and establish a flag football program within their schools athletic program.

The implementation of the Corky Kell + Dave Hunter Classic 7-on-7 Flag Football Tournament is a great way to build off the exceptional growth of the sport as the tournament will show opposing teams and spectators the success that the sport has turned out to be.

“I think it’s pretty exciting,” said GHSA Assistant Executive Director Ernie Yarbrough. “I’ve talked to a few people that are involved in that, some people that are going to have kids in it and they are really excited about it. I think any exposure that we can give to this, it will open peoples eyes to it. There are still people out there, unfortunately, a lot of folks think it’s ‘Powderpuff football’ and it’s not that at all, these kids are athletes and the truth is, is now we have kids receiving scholarship offers to play flag football because the NAIA has embraced it as a championship sport, the NJCAA they’ve embraced it so there is an opportunity for kids to get their college paid for,” said Yarbrough.

Yarbrough has been with the GHSA since 1992 in a handful of different roles and played a massive role in getting flag football sanctioned after he saw the potential and the benefits of making the sport an official GHSA-sanctioned sport.

The inaugural Corky Kell + Dave Hunter Classic 7-on-7 Flag Football Tournament will take place on Wednesday, June 19 at West Forsyth High School.


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