High School Sports

Brookstone host school for first Battleground Kickoff Classic

Brookstone host school for six-team, three-game event

By DAVID MITCHELL

dmitchell@ledger-enquirer.com

A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium will play host next month to the Battleground Kickoff Classic, the inaugural event in what organizers hope will become a long-standing tradition in Columbus.

Six teams, including Brookstone as the host school, will play three games on Aug. 23, beginning with Eagles Landing Christian vs. Mt. Paran Christian at 9:30 a.m. Landmark Christian will follow against Christian Heritage at noon and Brookstone vs. Mt. Pisgah at 2:30 p.m.

"It's something we've talked about for two years," said David Rosenberg, the chief organizer of the event. " I was born in Columbus and raised in Columbus, and we're hoping this can be an outreach to the community and to Fort Benning. You know, there are kids who are away from home for the first time

or military families with deployed members. We want to welcome them to games at no charge, and we're trying to raise enough money to bus over 500-1,000 soldiers to the games."

The inspiration came from Rosenberg's grandfather, the late Aaron Cohn who was a retired colonel in the U.S. Army and, later, the longest tenured juvenile and family court judge in the United States. Cohn died in 2012 at 96 years old.

Rosenberg said the idea came about around that time, but that things only really came together over the last six months.

The classic is an alternative to the already popular Corky Kell Kickoff Classic, which has been played at the Georgia Dome 21 times in its 22-year history. For just the second time, no games in the Corky Kell will be held at the Georgia Dome this year after a conflict with an Atlanta Falcons preseason game forced it to relocate to McEachern High.

The Corky Kell has generally served just the largest of Atlanta schools, though it will have Class AAAA and AAAAA games this year. Rosenberg stressed the amount of talent in the smaller classifications and was intrigued, along with fellow organizer Tripp Amos, with the opportunity to provide an opportunity for them to be showcased on a large stage.

"There's so much talent in the state of Georgia and so many kids that go to small schools who don't get noticed," he said. "My last game in high school (at Brookstone), there were about six or seven guys on the field who ended up playing Division-I football and two, maybe more, who ended up playing professional. There's great talent everywhere."

There were originally eight teams and four games scheduled to play, but a game between Aquinas and Prince Avenue Christian was scratched after Aquinas was presented with the opportunity to play a Class AAA team.

Rosenberg said he'd like to see the classic expand in the future beyond three games and beyond Class A. His hope is that it will flourish and become a mainstay at Memorial Stadium.

For its first year, he said, Brookstone was chosen as a host school simply because that was who they approached first out of familiarity. Rosenberg and Amos both attended Brookstone when they were in school.

In the future, Pacelli or other Columbus schools will be given the opportunity to host, he said.

The St. Luke United Methodist Church in Columbus will host a Friday night fellowship and sportsmanship dinner for the teams prior to the events on Saturday. Former Florida State iconic coach Bobby Bowden and retired NFL running back Derrick Moore will be speakers at the event.

David Mitchell, Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports and on Facebook at facebook.com/ledgerenquirersports

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