The GEICO State Champions Bowl Series, which will pit highly ranked state high school football champions, will be played Saturday, Dec. 23, at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix.
Last year’s event was held at the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas. Like last year, this year’s event will be a doubleheader on ESPNU. The teams have yet to be selected because they must first win state championships to be considered. The games will be held at 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m (ET) and will be called by ESPN play-by-play commentator Kevin Brown and analyst Craig Haubert.
Participating high school associations include the AIA (Arizona), FHSAA (Florida), GHSA (Georgia), MIAA (Maryland), UHSAA (Utah) and WIAA (Washington).
The teams will be announced in mid-December. However, the top team in the most recent Super 25 football rankings that would be eligible is No. 4 American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.). The Patriots are 10-0 and play Cardinal Gibbons (Fort Lauderdale) on Friday for the 5A-4 region championship.
“The GEICO State Champions Bowl series provides ESPNU another avenue to present the next generation of college athletes on a national stage,” said Dan Margulis, ESPN Senior Director College and High School Sports Programming. “This event, created by Paragon Marketing Group, will cap what has been an exciting football season.”
Other potential teams in the Super 25, provided they are invited and accept the invitation, include: No. 9 Bingham (South Jordan, Utah); No. 13 St. Frances Academy (Baltimore); No. 20 Archer (Lawrenceville, Ga.) and No. 25 Chandler (Hamilton, Ariz).
Bingham has the most experience in the event of any of those teams. The Miners just won their second consecutive state title. The Miners played in last season’s GEICO State Champions Series, losing 33-25 to St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale). They also played in the first State Champions Bowl Series, held in Boca Raton in 2014, losing 34-28 to Booker T. Washington (Miami).
“We’re very interested,” Bingham coach John Lambourne said. “We’ve enjoyed the experiences and it would be an exciting thing to do. We’re just waiting on state championships to play themselves out so that Paragon and ESPN can decide.”
St. Frances Academy (12-0) just won the MIAA A title last week. Archer (12-0) plays Colquitt County (Moultrie) on Friday in a AAAAAAA state semifinal. Chandler (10-2), which defeated Valdosta, Ga., 44-24 in last year’s GEICO State Champions Bowl, plays Perry (Gilbert) on Dec. 2 for its second consecutive 6A title.
“We thank the state associations for allowing their champions to participate, and look to expand the event in future years,” said Rashid Ghazi, Partner, Paragon Marketing Group.