The Beehive Classic was supposed to prove that Utah's high school football teams can compete with any program in the country.
However, the explosive weekend of prep football fizzled when two of the three games scheduled by event coordinator for Intel Athletics Tony Fa were canceled Thursday.
Representatives from the two California teams that were scheduled to take on 5A's third-ranked Jordan and 4A's top-ranked East, informed Fa Thursday that they would not participate because organizers changed the travel arrangements from a flight to a bus ride. The Colorado team that Bingham was scheduled to play did accept the change in plans and will face the Miners in South Jordan as planned Saturday, Sept. 1, at 7:30 p.m.
Fa said organizers lost financial support from a sponsor that made flying all three teams to Utah impossible.
"We never imagined that it would be such a major sticking point," he said. "We did everything we could to get them here. We support their decision, but personally, I really struggled with the fact that they couldn't handle a bus ride."
Fa said he watched Utah teams traveling to other states for opportunities and exposure and felt the time had come for other states to make a trip to Utah. He still feels putting together a top-notch lineup is possible and said they're already working on a program for next fall.
"We're not deterred by this," he said. "We feel absolutely horrible, especially for the players. They're the ones really being affected by this."
He said the game between Valor Christian, Colorado's top-ranked team, and Bingham, Utah's top-ranked team, will still be one of the country's best. Especially in light of the Miners' game Saturday against rival Alta. Both Valor Christian and Bingham are nationally ranked with the Miners listed as the No. 23 team in USA Today.
The cancellations left two of the state's best teams scrambling for a game next week, but the solution should still thrill football fans. Administrators from Jordan and East met Friday and agreed to play each other next week.
"We lost a coin toss," said Jordan athletic director Marc Hunter. "East wanted to play Friday, and we wanted to play Saturday."
The deal is a two-year agreement between the two powerhouse programs, which will begin next Friday at 7 p.m. when they square off at East High in Salt Lake City. Next year the Beetdiggers will host the Leopards, Hunter said.2 comments on this story
Bingham head coach Dave Peck said he's spoken with Valor Christian coaches and is grateful they'll make the bus ride to Utah so two of the country's best teams can face off.
"That's still a very significant game for the state of Utah," said Fa.
Leopards coach Brandon Matich was disappointed by the cancellation, but acknowledged having East and Jordan play instead is still a great football game.
Fa said he's looking forward to trying to bring other nationally ranked programs to Utah to play top local squads.
"These kinds of games only elevate football in Utah," he said. "We can only benefit from these types of opportunities."