Three of the state's top high school football programs will get to test their mettle against national competition during the 2012 season — on their own turf.
Bingham, East and Jordan will play in the inaugural "Beehive Classic: Showdown at the Hive" on Sept. 1. East is facing Gardena Serra High (Calif.), Jordan will play Long Beach Poly (Calif.) and Bingham has a showdown with Valor Christian (Colo.) in a tripleheader.
"What a great event to have in our state's backyard," said East coach Brandon Matich. "If we can all compete on a national level, it helps high school football in the state. I think it's exciting. Our kids are excited."
The three games will be played at Bingham High with East opening the tripleheader at 1:30 p.m., and the Miners finishing it off at 7:30 p.m. The event is being put on by a new company called Intel Athletics, and co-founders Tony Fa and Mario Cadenas wanted to bring some top-notch competition to Utah rather than see the state's elite teams continue to play in this type of event on out-of-state turf.
"We've seen some of our top programs go out of state for years," Fa said. "We wanted to do something to bring some elite programs to Utah and compete against them."
Fa and Cadenas are bringing in some powerhouses to play against what are expected to be three of the state's top teams next season.
East's opponent, Serra High, is coming off an 8-3 season and returns most of its team. The Leopards lose just six starters from last year's team that narrowly lost to Logan in the 4A championship game. The Cavaliers' athleticism will pose plenty of problems for East.
"It's a heck of a challenge," Matich said. "We know they'll be a formidable opponent with great talent."
Long Beach Poly has sent more players to the NFL than any other high school in the country. It is one of the more storied high school football programs in the country.
"Long Beach Poly coming out here is huge," Matich said.
Bingham plays Valor Christian in the main event. Valor Christian has only played football for four years, but has won three state championships. The Eagles' success is a controversial topic in Colorado as opposing coaches have accused Valor Christian of recruiting. The Eagles won the 4A title game by a score of 66-10 last year.
Valor Christian finished last season ranked No. 23 in the USA Today's Super 25 national rankings.
"This is an opportunity to make a statement," Fa said. "We're hoping it's going to be a situation that shows Utah teams can compete and play on a national level. This will be a measuring stick to where we are, and I feel like these are three of our elite, top-tier programs."
Fa and Cadenas hope to make the Beehive Classic an annual event while growing their company that aims to help high school athletes with athletic training while educating them on the recruiting process.
"We want to help student-athletes reach the next level," Cadenas said. "We aren't just looking to help D-1 athletes. We want to help them get to where they can fit into a program — whether it's D-2, D-3 or JUCO."
East vs. Gardena Sierra High (Calif.), 1:30 p.m.
Jordan vs. Long Beach Poly (Calif.), 4:30 p.m.
Bingham vs. Valor Christian (Colo.), 7:30 p.m.
Note: Times are tentative