With State Open Division champion Scottsdale Saguaro retired, 6A champion Gilbert Highland agreed to represent Arizona at the GEICO Bowl in Las Vegas on Friday night.
The Hawks, who just won the school’s first football championship, play at 8:30 p.m. Arizona time against Florida 3A champion Chaminade-Madonna on ESPNU.
Coach Brock Farrel said it has been an eventful week as players advance to the finals and put together a roster for ESPN. The list of trips was limited to 60. Paragon Marketing Group provides free transportation and hotel accommodations for the team, Farrell said. Charter buses are used to travel to and from Las Vegas.
The teams will leave on Thursday after the end of the finals.
“It’s a great opportunity but you have the logistics, and it’s a whirlwind,” Farrel said. “The trip itself, the children are delighted. We want to play but do we want to spend another week? “
After beating Scottsdale Chaparral for the title on Saturday, the Highlands players were off on Monday.
On Tuesday, the Hawks (11-3) took a tour. On Wednesday, they trained with helmets.
“It’s a real game,” said Farrel. “The kids have the opportunity to face one of the best in the country. We want to play well and not get beaten up.”
For 5-foot-10 senior quarterback Gage Dayley, who hasn’t received any offers to sign this week at the start of the Division I colleges signing period, it’s a chance to show a stage national how well he throws a soccer ball.
He was close to perfect on Saturday, throwing four touchdowns against a Chaparral team that gave Saguaro their only loss this season.
“This is definitely an opportunity for Gage to show what he can do on ESPNU,” said Farrel. “You just don’t know who is watching. But he will face some great future college players.”
Chaminade-Madonna won her sixth Florida Championship at FHSAA 3A level. He’s led by defensive end Kenyatta Jackson and cornerback Ryan Turner, both of whom are engaged in Ohio State. One of the team’s victories came against Georgia 6A champion Buford. He beat Berkeley Prep for the Florida Championship.
Highland will be without its only first signing, UNLV-linked defensive end Fisher Camac, who broke his arm and missed the latter part of the season.
“You can either say ‘Oh, they can play’ or ‘This is a revival, this is what we have to do,'” said Farrel. “Either way, it’s a win-win.”
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Highland prepares for another football game after first 6A title