South Carolina high school football is preparing to fight for respect in 2014 as it will send two teams out-of-state to face members of the high school football elite.
According to multiple sources close to the negotiations, Concord (Cali.) De La Salle and Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes are nearing an agreement to play a nationally televised high school football game early next season. The potential exists for the pair to also play in 2015 as part of a home-and-home series.De La Salle and Byrnes are among the most prestigious programs in the nation and the game is expected to be either a headliner for ESPN’s opening weekend of high school football games on either Aug. 29 or Aug. 30, 2014 or played two weeks later on Sept. 12.
The sources would not confirm the date nor which location would host the first game but both said that the deal is nearing completion and very close to having a signed contract with Paragon Marketing Group.
One source said that if De La Salle was not still alive for the California Open Division state championship the contract would be done but the school wants to handle its in-season business before moving to next year.
De La Salle is currently ranked No. 8 in the HSFB100 and may still have two weeks left in the season before it elects to sign the contract.
This weekend the Spartans will play nationally-ranked Folsom (Cali.) High in the CIF Open Division Regional Bowl and with a victory would face either Bellflower (Cali.) St. John Bosco or Corona (Cali.) Centennial next weekend.
Byrnes season was ended by Irmo (S.C.) Dutch Fork two weeks ago but the Rebels remain in the HSFB100.
The state championship was a jumping off point for Dutch Fork and it prompted Texas powerhouse Allen (Texas) High to agree for the teams to play next year outside of Dallas.
Speculation exists that the game is being put on by Hercules Sports Management and its potential for television is unclear.
Dutch Fork has been revived under former Charlotte (N.C.) Independence coach Tommy Knotts who took over the program five years ago and has turned it into a nationally relevant opponent.
Allen is currently No. 2 in the HSFB100 and will be facing the winner of DeSoto (Texas) High and Euless (Texas) Trinity for a chance to play for a Texas 5A Division I state championship.
Byrnes will be replacing Gatorade Player of the Year winner Shuler Bentley at quarterback with his brother — class of 2017 prospect Jake Bentley. The team also will boast wide receiver Tavin Richardson.
With its $62-million stadium, Allen will host the Dutch Fork contest and it will be headlined by quarterback Kyler Murray. Murray was named the Gatorade Player of the Year for the state in only his junior season.