As if the sixth annual Sollenberger Classic pitting a couple of nationally-ranked teams didn't carry enough juice, now the NFL is involved.
The Arizona Cardinals have put their name behind a contest that traditionally pits reigning Arizona and Nevada state champions.
This year's premier Sollenberger game on Aug. 20 features Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.)
, No. 10 in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 preseason rankings
, and No. 24 Chaparral (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
For the first time, there's a second Sollenberger Classic game, this one is defending Arizona 3A champion Show Low
against Nevada 3A runner-up Moapa Valley (Overton)
Both games will be played at state-of-the-art and spacious University of Phoenix Stadium, site of the 2008 Super Bowl. The 2008 Sollenberger Classic was also held at the Cardinals' home facility and also featured Bishop Gorman, a 16-6 loser to Brophy College Prep (Phoenix, Ariz.)
Besides this being the first big national showdown of the season, being played at a NFL venue and honoring longtime high school sports backer Barry Sollenberger, the game will also raise awareness of sports-related head injuries, one of football's most important topics.
"The Arizona Cardinals are pleased to be hosting the Sollenberger Classic at University of Phoenix Stadium for a second time," Cardinals President Michael Bidwill said in a prepared statement. "We are also very excited about the development of the relationship between the AIA, Catholic Heathcare West and the Cardinals in the past year.
"Along with the efforts of the NFL, the goal of the three organizations is to spread the word about the importance of understanding the effects of sports-related head injuries. I encourage both student-athletes and their parents to take part in the educational session during the Sollenberger Classic."
The game is being put on by the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) in cooperation with the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association (NIAA).
"We are excited to continue to expand the Sollenberger Classic in honor of the late Barry Sollenberger to two games," AIA Executive Director Harold Slemmer said. "This is truly becoming a big event, and this year it will be even bigger with officials, coaches and youth clinics around the games."
Said NIAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine: "The State of Nevada is honored that we are now in our fourth year of participation in the Barry Sollenberger Football Classic. The Arizona Interscholastic Association and the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association's partnership in this event have proven to be a wonderful experience for our athletes, coaches and fans alike. This year's format featuring two games is a splendid addition that will allow more participants to enjoy this event."
The premier game will feature four of the top seniors in the country: Chaparral quarterback Connor Brewer
and receiver Davonte Neal
and Gorman running back Shaquille Powell
and tackle Ronnie Stanley
. Neal is ranked the No. 25 senior in the country according to CBS/MaxPreps recruiting expert Tom Lemming
. Brewer is No. 28. NOTES:
Tickets for the Sollenberger Classic are $10.00 for adults, $6.00 for students (ages 6-18) and children 5 and younger admitted free. ... Tickets will be available starting Saturday (Aug. 6) at the University of Phoenix Stadium ticket office and TicketMaster.com. ... Game time for Show Low and Moapa Valley is 3 p.m., followed by Gorman-Chaparral at 7. ... The late Sollenberger was a former AIA employee. As a sports historian, Sollenberger was devoted to the task of documenting the achievements of high school athletes in the state of Arizona. ... Gorman lost last year's Sollenberger game to Hamilton 24-17 but went on to win its third straight 4A state title. ... Much more on this contest closer to game time. Look for wall-to-wall coverage on the Sollenberger Classic from MaxPreps.com.