Two days after Christmas, six high school football teams — all them state champions — will continue their seasons in the Burger King State Champions Bowl Series at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Fla.
The first-of-its-kind event, televised by ESPNU, was announced in November, but the pairings were revealed Tuesday and at least two of the three games in the daylong series could have an impact on the final Super 25 football rankings of the season.
The biggest matchup is No. 3 Booker T. Washington (Miami) vs. No. 8 Bingham (South Jordan, Utah) at 8 p.m. (ET). Booker T. Washington’s Tornadoes won the 4A state title on Dec. 6. The wait for this bowl game will be a lot longer for the Miners, who won the Utah 5A state title on Nov. 21.
Another game involving two Super 25 teams is No. 6 Miami Central, the Florida 6A champion, against No. 16 Bothell, the Washington 4A champion, at 4 p.m.
“It’s a little weird, playing this late, but at least we had a week to take off and chill,” said Booker T. Washington coach Tim Harris Jr. “Us and Central are built the same way. We have the same attitude. We’ll play anyone, anywhere. This gives our kids an opportunity to play in a nationally televised game and that can open up doors for them.”
Eastside Catholic (Bellevue, Wash.), which ended the nation’s longest winning streak by knocking off Bellevue in the 3A state championship, will play Florida 3A champion Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) at noon.
All of the teams from out of state are scheduled to fly to Florida on Christmas.
Only three state associations agreed to be a part of the inaugural series and some of the Florida champions from larger classifications that were eligible turned down the opportunity, such as 8A champion Apopka, 7A champion St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale) and 5A champion American Heritage (Plantation).
“We are thrilled to have these states participating in the inaugural year of the event,” said Dan Margulis, ESPN’s senior director of college sports programming. “We are focused on making this a worthwhile experience, both on and off the field, before we turn our attention to future years.”
Rashid Ghazi, who put the matchups together for Paragon Marketing, said he was thrilled to get as many elite teams in a first-year event.
“The fact that we have five teams in the Super 25 and the sixth team is a two-state champion with five players in the ESPN 300 speaks to the outstanding quality of the games we have assembled,” Ghazi said. “This will be a unique experience and a great chance for fans who never before been able to see six state champions play after they have won their state championships.”