There is football all over the place in December.
In 2011, count Macon as the host for some gridiron action.
Optimus Energy Drinks and the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame are teaming up to host the Georgia Invitational Football Classic, pitting the Peach State against Florida, Alabama and South Carolina in high school football.
Optimus and the Hall made the announcement Tuesday at the Hall.
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“We’re also looking to bring activities, a major festival here as well to downtown Macon,” Optimus founder and CEO Johnny James said, “so we can excite the city of Macon during the Christmas holidays.”
Among the events are a 5K road race.
The three games are to feature high school football players who have yet to commit to a college or who are under-the-radar prospects and give them a showcase place for college coaches to observe.
“We’re basically giving an opportunity to 194 young men, an opportunity to go to the next level. “This is not (an) all-star game, this is (an) invitational football game.”
The games will be played at Henderson Stadium and the Ed DeFore Sports Complex.
“We don’t have many sporting events of this caliber … in Middle Georgia,” Hall interim executive director Ben Sapp said. “We think this is going to be a great start.”
DeFore, a Lanier grad and longtime Macon city councilman, said he has spent 60 years as a “sports contributor” and is happy to see something that can benefit local youngsters.
“It’s going to be great,” said DeFore, who recalled a similar event, the Peanut Bowl, in Columbus years ago. “I’d like to see this be annually, and not only for Georgia, but for the Southeast. I want it to be a Southeastern event.”
Proceeds from the games will go to a variety of recipients, including the Middle Georgia Boy Scouts, Police Athletic League and Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.
The “semifinal” games will be played at Henderson Stadium on Dec. 28 with the championship three days later at the DeFore complex.
Current Westside assistant and former Macon County and Central head coach C.B. Cornett is Georgia’s head coach, and assistants — according to a release — include James Hagins of Wilkinson County, former Southwest head coach Maurice Freeman of Brooks County and longtime head coach Buck Godfrey of Southwest DeKalb.
“Young men every year go and have opportunities to go to college and there are just not enough that have that opportunity,” Cornett said. “We’re going to do our best to expose as many of those young men as possible.”
Cornett was called and got on board less than 10 days ago. He’s used to coaching quality high school football players who don’t get much attention.
“We didn’t have the big-hype athlete,” said Cornett, who won a state championship at Macon County. “We had guys that liked to play football. Hopefully, we can get a few more of those exposed to the colleges.
“I think it’s a great idea to be able to help young people.”