Four state champion high school football teams will extend their season one game by playing in the GEICO State Champions Bowl Series Dec. 23 in Phoenix on ESPNU.
Bingham (South Jordan, Utah), will play St. Frances Academy (Baltimore) at 6 p.m. (ET) at Grand Canyon University on ESPN. The nightcap of the series will feature Chandler, Ariz., vs. Miami Northwestern (Miami) at 9:30 p.m. (ET). ESPN play-by-play commentator Kevin Brown and analyst Craig Haubert will call both games.
No. 23 Chandler (12-2) is a two-time defending 6A state champion and the closest thing to a home team in the event. The Wolves won their debut in the series last year, defeating Valdosta, Ga., 44-24 in Frisco, Texas.
“We had our state championship a week and a half ago,” Chandler coach Shaun Aguano said. “We’re going to start practicing today. It is good to be home. We travel all the time, so it’s good to have one at home.”
Chandler and Miami Northwestern both lost to No. 2 IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) with the Wolves falling 27-14 at home on Aug. 26 and Northwestern losing 21-0 on the road on Sept. 30.
“They’re very athletic,” Aguano said of Northwestern. “We played a common opponent in IMG and they played them well, so it should be a good game.”
Northwestern just found out this week that it would be playing in the event, so the Bulls (12-2) the 6A state champion, will have the least preparation time of all the teams, but will also be the least likely to be rusty.
Bingham (13-0) has won back-to-back state titles and is the top-ranked team in the event at No. 8. The Miners are also the most experienced team in the series but are looking for their first win in it. 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).
The Miners began practicing again on Dec. 4 in preparation for St. Frances.
“We don’t know much about them,” Bingham coach John Lambourne said. “We have some film of them. There are some uncertainties. Film is nowhere near as beneficial as having actual experience against a team or having a common opponent. We still have more days to prepare to the way we’re accustomed to.”
St. Frances is ranked No. 11. The Panthers (12-0) won their second consecutive Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A title this season.