State champions in football from the state of Florida may find themselves with one more game to look forward to this year — a game to be played on a national stage.
On Monday at its Board of Director’s meeting, the Florida High School Athletic Association gave final approval to participate in a Post Season Football Bowl Series featuring selected champions from Florida against state champions from different states.
The series (not a tournament, each team will play just one game) is tentatively to consist of three games that are scheduled for December 27 — two weeks after the final FHSAA state championship contest — at noon, 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPNU.
National rankings will also play a large part in the selections for the contests and teams will not be obligated to play if invited.
The bowl series idea was originally proposed by Paragon Marketing Group based out of Chicago (which has collaborate with ESPN before on its national basketball invitational).
The games are likely to be played in Florida, although because the Orlando Citrus Bowl is already fully booked around that time for college bowl games it is unlikely that Central Florida would be considered.
Other participating states have not been formally announced.
Local coaches Rodney Wells of Dr. Phillips and Bob head of West Orange each expressed enthusiasm toward the series — which would serve as a national showcase for high school football in Florida.
“I think it could be a great thing,” Wells said. “Coaches don’t ever look ahead past one week, but just in the overall scheme of things we love to coach and the kids love to play.
“We’ve got a lot of kids trying to get to the next level, and I think a national game like that would certainly help them get some notoriety,” he said. “It would be kind of like a college bowl game — with an excitement to it that maybe we don’t have at the high-school level.”
Wells’ Panthers (5-0) are a state title contender in Class 8A, as are Head’s Warriors (5-0). Head, while expressing excitement, did note some reservations about the time frame for the games.
“I absolutely love it,” Head said. “I worry about the timing of it — that’s a long, long time.
“Kids obviously play other sports and kids are leaving early to go to college, (so) a lot of factors could be into it but I do like the thought of it,” he said. “I would love to see who’s the best of the best — bragging rights for the entire country.”
Dr. Phillips has some familiarity with sports on a national stage, already, because Anthony Jones’ girls basketball program participated in the national high school basketball tournament each of the three years (2011-13) that it won a state championship.
“It’s the same situation, but obviously with a football team versus a basketball team there’s a lot more numbers of people involved,” Wells said. “But I know our kids and anytime they step on the field they’re excited about the game and they’re excited to play.”