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Canes to host first-ever doubleheader of the GEICO ESPN High School Football Kickoff

Weinman Stadium in Cartersville takes the national high school football spotlight this Saturday hosting a doubleheader as part of the seven-game 2017 GEICO ESPN High School Football Kickoff.

The 8th-annual event will have 10 states represented, 29 players ranked in the ESPN 300, and 22 players who have already committed to top college football programs across the nation.

Games will be played on ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNU Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in Florida, Arizona, Nevada, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Cartersville, GA.

The doubleheader in Cartersville is the first-ever, same-site games played in the annual series of games. The doubleheader will feature four of the top quarterbacks in the high school senior class of 2018.

Saraland (Ala.) led by quarterback Jack West (Stanford commit) takes on Heard County (Ga.) in the 2:30 pm opener at Weinman Saturday on ESPNU. The game will be the first of the year for the Spartans from just north of Mobile.

Heard County (1-0) features Ohio State commit Emory Jones. The Braves routed South Atlanta last Friday at home in their season-opener, 42-15, and were 8-4 last season.

The Saturday nightcap at Weinman Stadium features Bartram Trail (Fla.) with Auburn commit Joey Gatewood against the host Purple Hurricanes led by Clemson commit Trevor Lawrence. The game will be televised on ESPN2 with the normal local radio broadcast on WBHF-Cartersville (100.3FM and AM1450).

Gatewood accounted for 1,784 offensive yards for Bartram Trail in 2016. He rushed for 753 yards and 11 touchdowns while throwing for 716 yards and three TDs. Gatewood also was on the receiving end of 315 yards and six TDs.

Lawrence is the top pro-style quarterback in the Class of 2018. He threw for 3,904 yards and 51 touchdowns last season to go with 3,655/43 in 2015 and 3,042/26 in 2014.

The Canes (1-0) have won 31 consecutive games, back-to-back Georgia Class 4A titles, their opener at Class AAAAAA Allatoona last week 35-14, and have scored 600 points in each of the last two seasons.

Cartersville is the 3rd-ranked team in Georgia among all-classifications according to The Hurricanes rank 37th nationally.

“We’re thrilled about (the event),” Bartram Trail football coach Darrell Sutherland told reporter Will Brown of back in June. “One, to play a team like Cartersville, it’s great competition. Coach (Joey) King does a great job. Obviously, their record speaks for itself. We’re excited about that. The fact that we were chosen to play in something like that, I think is an honor for our program and our school. We’re hoping to go up there and represent St. Johns County well.”

Bartram Trail (St. Johns, FL) is the 19th-ranked team in Florida according to The Bears rank 178th nationally. They were 8-5 last season and 9-4 in 2015.

“Bartram Trail has a really good team," noted Cartersville head coach Joey King. "We have some things to clean up from last week and we will have to play better. This is a great opportunity for our kids to play on a national level with the ESPN2 game, but the front end of our schedule is challenging for sure,” King concluded.

The seven-game set of games kicks off Friday night at 7 pm on ESPNU from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. St. Thomas Aquinas will host St. John Bosco (Calif.) in a matchup of state champions from last season.

At 9 pm Friday on ESPN, DeMatha (Md.) will play at Bishop Gorman (Nev.) in Las Vegas. DeMatha was 12-0 last year and Bishop Gorman is riding a 54-game winning streak with back-to-back national No. 1 rankings from ESPN.

Saturday at 12 noon, a pair of Oklahoma high schools will go head-to-head on ESPN. Defending 6A-I state champion Tulsa Union travels to Broken Arrow in a matchup of Sooner state powers.

Following the doubleheader from Cartersville High School, IMG Academy (Fla.) will face off with Chandler (Ariz.) in the southern Phoenix-area suburb at 9 pm. IMG Academy has 11 players in the ESPN 300 — including No. 1 defensive end Xavier Thomas — and Chandler is the defending Arizona Class 6A champion.

The final game of the event is Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm. Wayne (Ohio) travels to Gibsonia, Pennsylvania to challenge Pine-Richland (Pa.) on ESPN.

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