Many new high school football coaches get to ease their way into their first season. Pierre Senatus’ second game as the new coach at Miramar (Fla.) will be on national television.
Miramar will play at IMG Academy (Bradenton), already considered a possible Super 25 team, on Aug. 30 in the GEICO ESPN High School Football Kickoff on ESPNU.
In the coming days, ESPN is expected to announce a schedule of 10 high school games that will air Aug. 28-30 on the various ESPN networks. The 10 games mark the conclusion of the Summer of Next, which includes coverage of a series of key events across high school sports.
Of the 10 games, all but two feature at least one team with a new coach.
Senatus is hardly a newcomer to televised games, however. As an assistant last year at Booker T. Washington (Miami), he got to coach in two of them, including the season-ending Burger King State Champions Bowl Series.
“Being on TV changes how the kids prepare for games,” Senatus said. “When we were at Booker T., we some had problems the first two times we were on TV, but going on the road for a TV game gave us great synergy as a team. It made us lean on each other that much more. When you’re playing on TV, all the distractions of camps and how many stars you have go away because you can’t focus on those things. Everyone will get to see our warts and flaws on national television, so you want to be as unified and complete as possible. The eye in the sky doesn’t lie.”
IMG will also have a new coach in veteran Kevin Wright. The other teams in the event with new coaches: St. Thomas Aquinas, Fort Lauderdale (Roger Harriott); Booker T. Washington, Miami (Earl Tillman); Starkville, Miss. (Ricky Woods); DeSoto, Texas (Todd Peterman); Trinity, Euless, Texas (Chris Jensen); and Bishop Gorman, Las Vegas (Kenny Sanchez).
The series will also give a nudge to a budding rivalry when Oxford, Miss., travels to Starkville for the third Little Egg Bowl, a nod to the longtime rivalry between Ole Miss and Mississippi State, located in Oxford and Starkville, respectively. Oxford, which plays in 5A, defeated Starkville 35-24 in 2013, but the Class 6A Yellowjackets got revenge last season, handing the then-No. 1 ranked Chargers their first loss, 52-29.
“Their defensive coordinator’s dad is my best friend,” said Oxford coach Johnny Hill, who has said he will retire after this season. “There’s a lot of interconnections. It’s going to be a bloodletting. Last year, we didn’t come in with a chip on our shoulder. This year, we’re coming in with a log on our shoulder.”
Hill said that the rivalry, though not as big as one between Ole Miss and MSU, is still pretty intense.
“On the high school level, it’s not too far off,” Hill said. “The reason is Starkville is one of those teams that try to intimidate you and run their mouth. That doesn’t do anything but fire up our kids up. It’s a pretty good rivalry.”
The full expected schedule for the GEICO ESPN High School Kickoff (all times are Eastern):
|Friday, Aug. 28||8 PM||ESPN||Booker T. Washington (Miami) vs. St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale)||St. Thomas Aquinas|
|9 PM||ESPNU||Oxford, Miss. vs. Starkville, Miss.||Starkville High School|
|Saturday, Aug. 29||Noon||ESPN||Miami (Fla.) Central vs. DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.)||Prince George’s Sports & Learning Complex, Landover, Md.|
|1 PM||ESPNU||Spartanburg, S.C. vs. Wakulla (Crawfordville, Fla.)||Wakulla High School|
|4 PM||ESPNU||Benedictine (Cleveland) vs. Central Catholic (Toledo)||Central Catholic High School|
|5 PM||ESPN2||DeSoto, Texas vs. Martin (Arlington, Texas)||Vernan Newsom Stadium, Mansfield, Texas|
|7 PM||ESPNU||Peachtree Ridge (Suwanee, Ga.) vs. Archer (Lawrenceville, Ga.)||Archer High School|
|9 PM||ESPN2||De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) vs. Trinity (Euless)||Vernan Newsom Stadium, Mansfield, Texas|
|10 PM||ESPNU||Chandler, Ariz. vs. Bishop Gorman, Las Vegas||Bishop Gorman High School|
|Sunday, Aug. 30||2 PM||ESPNU||Miramar, Fla. vs. IMG Academy (Bradenton)||IMG Academy|