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North Atlanta Warriors gives APS first win of season at 2023 Corky Kell Dave Hunter Classic

by Thomas Scott

Football season is here, and the North Atlanta Warriors put on a show Wednesday afternoon in the first Georgia high school football game of the season at the 2023 Corky Kell Dave Hunter Classic at Kell High School.

The 32nd annual Corky Kell Dave Hunter Classic signals the beginning of the Georgia High School football season with a four-day showcase featuring 11 games.

“It’s a great opportunity for our kids, our program, our school and our community to play in front of the whole state kicking the season off,” North Atlanta head football coach Jamie Aull said. “Our group has been working just as hard if not harder this year than we did last off season, so we’re just trying to exceed the bar like we did last year.”

North Atlanta receiver Grant Thompson catches a long pass from Ian Reynolds and scores on the play. (photo: Thomas Scott)

The Warriors, which had their best season in school history in 2022 finishing 8-4, took a big step towards exceeding expectations after defeating Johns Creek 58-14 for its first win of the season.

“That was one of the first goals; to win the opener,” Aull said. “Winning that first game sets the tone for the rest of the year and it was great to see our kids come out, start fast and compete their tails off.”

North Atlanta senior running back Demeitrus Barnes scored the first touchdown of the year on a run up the middle just a few plays after the Warriors defense recovered a forced fumble.

“I think we did great,” Barnes said. “Everybody was locked in.”

The North Atlanta band and dance team. (photo: Thomas Scott)

It was the first of three total touchdowns for Barnes, and North Atlanta filled up the scoreboard in all three phases of the game.

Junior quarterback Ian Reynolds finished the game with both a passing and rushing touchdown while also converting a 2-point conversion.

Senior defensive back Darius Malcolm ran back two kickoffs for touchdowns, senior Xaden Benson had a rushing touchdown and Grant Thompson was on the receiving end of Reynolds passing touchdown.

The defense recovered a forced fumble and was credited with a safety after a bad snap sailed past the punter and out the back of the endzone.

North Atlanta head football coach Jamie Aull leads the team to shake hands after the victory. (photo: Thomas Scott)

North Atlanta was the only APS school featured in this year’s Corky Kell Dave Hunter Classic, but they represented the district well getting the first win of the season. More APS schools are slated to have their first games starting Friday and another exciting year of Georgia high school football will be fully underway.

“As far as APS goes, we’ve got a lot of good football programs in our district. I look down at what coach Darren Miles does at Carver, and just admire the way he does things and the way he’s established his program as a perennial state contender,” Aull said. “Mays is doing great things. South Atlanta has had a ton of success the last couple years. We play good football in the city too. There’s always a lot of focus on Gwinnett and South Georgia but we play good football in APS as well.”

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