While big games remain remain in 2015, a huge showdown has been added to the calendar for 2016 with the announcement Thursday that national powers Corona (Calif.) Centennial and IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) will square off on Labor Day Weekend in the 2016 Honor Bowl in Southern California.
Both teams are ranked in the Top 10 of this week’s USA TODAY Super 25 with IMG at No. 4 and Corona Centennial at No. 9 and are expected to be contenders next season based on the returning talent expected.
Like, IMG, Corona Centennial, which will play No. 2 St. John Bosco Saturday night in the CIF-Southern Section Pac 5 championship game, is in the hunt for USA TODAY Sports’ 2015 national championship.
IMG, which cannot play for a state championship in Florida, finished a perfect 9-0 with impressive wins against Bergen Catholic, Paramus Catholic and St. Joseph Regional (Montvale) from New Jersey’s powerful Big North United Division.
“It’s a privilege to be able to play a part in The Honor Bowl,” said Centennial coach Matt Logan. “It’s great to be able to honor and help the soldiers and their families that risked their lives for our freedom. Playing in a national game against an unbelievable opponent like IMG Academy is a great opportunity for our football program.”
“We are very excited to be participating in the 2016 Honor Bowl against Corona Centennial,” IMG coach Kevin Wright said. “Playing in a game that helps recognize and pay tribute to the tremendous sacrifices of the men and women of our armed forces and their families is both an honor and a privilege for our football program.”
The Corona Centennial-IMG Academy matchup will be one of four games that will be played during the 2016 Honor Bowl — the other matchups will be announced at a later date.
“We are so happy to have these two incredible teams join us in 2016,” said Mark Soto, founder of The Honor Group. “Matt Logan and Kevin Wright are two of the country’s top coaches and leaders of young men. They are a perfect fit for the Honor Bowl’s mission of educating students, coaches and communities about the needs of our military veterans.”
IMG Academy’s visit to Southern California will mark the first time a Florida team has played in the event. Over the past two years, The Honor Bowl has showcased Washington State powers Bellevue and Eastside Catholic, plus Hawaii’s Kamehameha and Nevada power Reed. In addition to Corona Centennial, which has played in every Southern California Honor Bowl, the event has featured SoCal heavyweights Alemany, Cathedral Catholic, Serra (Gardena), Helix, Oaks Christian, Oceanside, Orange Lutheran, St. Bonaventure, Upland and Westlake.
The Honor Bowl is a non-profit fundraising event that educates students, coaches and communities about the needs of military veterans.
This year’s Honor Bowl matchups are being put together with the help of USA TODAY High School Sports partner High School Football America.
“I’d like to thank Jeff Fisher of High School Football America,” said Soto. “Jeff used his relationships to introduce some of the nation’s top programs to our event. Our goal is to bring some of the nation’s premier teams to the area to take-on the best in Southern California. In the very near future, we expect to announce the other marquee programs from around America that will be taking part in the 2016 event.”