After two seasons of play, flag football has proved to be one of the fastest-growing high school sports in Georgia, with nearly 230 schools expecting to field teams for the 2022 season.
Now, those teams will be getting additional recognition, with Georgia Public Broadcasting live-streaming weekly flag football games.
On Oct. 13, the inaugural Clash of the Champions at West Forsyth will highlight two of Cobb County’s best teams, with Hillgrove face Southeast Bulloch at 6 p.m. and Marietta facing off against West Forsyth at 8 p.m. Archer will face Portal at 7 p.m.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for our kids, and it’s absolutely great for the sport itself,” Marietta coach Nick Houstoulakis said. “The sport has expanded from that standpoint, where you have more schools that are fielding teams, and now they’re streaming the games. It’s good for the sport to see it grow in a couple of years’ span.”
The Clash of Champions will feature a matchup of two state champions from last season — Class AAAAAAA champ Hillgrove and Class A/4A champ Southeast Bulloch. Marietta and Portal were the respective runners-up, while West Forsyth was the state champion in 2020.
“The excitement of knowing that your first game of the season is going to be streamed, and it’s going to be against a quality opponent, what it does is it gives us more motivation in the offseason to be prepared and be ready to go,” Houstoulakis said.
GPB will live-stream two flag football games every Thursday starting Oct. 20, continuing until the championship games are broadcast Dec. 9.
“This year, we’re really excited because we’ve got almost 230 schools that are playing. And because of that, we now have three divisions,” Georgia High School Association assistant executive director Ernie Yarbrough said in a release. “I think at some point in time, we’re probably going to have four divisions.”
Of the 230 teams fielding a team, 15 will be from Cobb. All Cobb teams will play in Division 3 within the 2022 area alignment.
Hillgrove, Marietta, McEachern, Osborne, Pebblebrook and South Cobb will play in Area 1. Area 2 will be divided into East and West divisions, with Kell, Lassiter, Pope, Walton and Wheeler making up the East, and Allatoona, Harrison, Kennesaw Mountain and North Cobb joining North Paulding in the West.