Brook Hill Texas Football Classic Goes National With Teams From Both Coasts Against East Texas Schools
BULLARD -- Brook Hill is always looking for ways to stand out within one of the nation's best college football player producing regions per capita.
The news it shared Friday could be its best move yet.
Head coach Bobby Brasher announced the Guard and Edgewood have parted ways as head-to-head opponents in the opening game of the 2015 Brook Hill Texas Football Classic in favor of a truly national opening weekend event.
The Guard will host St. Bernard's Catholic from Eureka, Calif., on Aug 27. Edgewood will visit Brook Hill's campus the following evening to square off with Marco Island Academy from Florida.
"They're excited," Brasher said in reference to his squad. "I'm scared a little bit that they may be a little too excited. We want to do what we do and not get caught up in the hype, but it's hard not be. It's a once-in-a-lifetime deal to be able to play someone from a different state, especially from the three biggest football states in the country."
Edgewood head coach Ryan Simmons also attended the media event as did his competition, Marco Island Academy's Matt Fowler.
The coaches, joined by Terry Pirtle of Houston Second Baptist and Richard Williams from Episcopal School of Dallas, announced a three-game slate at Brook Hill. Second Baptist and ESD close the event Aug. 29.
"It's a little different," Simmons said. "We came out here and played pretty well (against Brook Hill). It was a neat thing to be a part of the Classic and all that kind of stuff. Now we're throwing a team from Florida into it and I'm thinking, 'I don't know about all this.' But, for us, this is going to be the start of our season.
"No matter what comes from that, we're going to play one game at a time. We're not carrying the whole State of Texas on our shoulder to play against a Florida school. It's just another school on our schedule that we're going to play."
Downplaying the states' football rivalries will be a key for all teams involved.
For East Texas at large, however, the event will be a rare glimpse into how local teams stack up against similar caliber teams from different states.
The intrigue goes both ways. Brasher said the event had to turn down a team from Birmingham, Ala., and a second from West Virginia.
"People wanted to come down here," Brook Hill's coach said. "We turned down some schools that wanted to play here just because it was Texas football. I was really surprised. They didn't care who they played. They just wanted to bring their kids here and experience it.
"A couple of coaches said there's nothing like it. I had heard that, but we sometimes take that for granted being in Texas and seeing great players every Friday night. Not appreciating the fact that it is special in Texas. It's very important to people here."
St. Bernard's Catholic, 270 miles northwest of the heart of San Francisco, went 11-2 last season and reached the North Coast Section semifinals in its division. The school has a student population of 144 this academic year.
Head coach Matt Tomlin was not able to travel for the media session.
Marco Island Academy, a public charter school 104 miles due west of Miami on the Gulf Coast, has an enrollment a bit too big for Brook Hill to be comfortable with, hence why Edgewood agreed to the task.
As a program entering its fourth season of competition, most of its players have gained varsity experience since their freshman season. The team has increased its win total each year and finished 2014 with a 4-6 record.
Marco Island Academy will enter the Edgewood game with 19 returning starters, including the entire Wing-T offensive set from last season.
"This is a beautiful facility," Fowler said. "It's top-notch. Florida varies. Some of the bigger schools have real nice stuff and some of the smaller schools don't have very much. This is an awesome facility and this is kind of why we want to come up here. I know Texas football is a big deal and we've got two states with good traditional football together. I want our kids to see what other parts of the country are doing."
Fowler added he plans to bring his 31 letter winners from last season team to Bullard. He could add more to the itinerary once he gets a better feel for his younger players.
"We had one other opportunity in Texas," Fowler said. "This one just seemed to be the right opportunity for our program at this time. We're trying to build. Every year we develop a little more. We want to keep building, not get over our head and have the ability to compete. I think Coach Brasher did a good job of finding an opponent that's pretty evenly matched with us."
2015 Brook Hill Texas Football Classic Kickoff Schedule
At Brook Hill's Herrington Stadium, Bullard
- 7:30 p.m., Aug 27 (Thurs.) -- Brook Hill vs. Eureka (Calif.) St. Bernard's Catholic
- 7:30 p.m., Aug 28 (Fri.) -- Edgewood vs. Marco Island (Fla.) Marco Island Academy
- 7 p.m., Aug. 29 (Sat.) -- Houston Second Baptist vs. Episcopal School of Dallas