UPDATE: The game has been made official for 4:30 p.m. Saturday in Las Vegas.
St. Thomas Aquinas has accepted an invitation to play against Saint Louis in the GEICO State Champions Bowl Series on Saturday, according to Chris Chun of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association.
The official paperwork from the Raiders, who are from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., has not been sent in yet, but the school did make the verbal agreement today, Chun said.
Paperwork is expected to be received by GEICO bowl officials as soon as tomorrow.
The matchup between the Hawaii Open Division state champion Crusaders (12-0) and the Raiders (13-0) has been the buzz for a few weeks, and now it’s waiting for the final signatures. Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas is the site, and game time Saturday is at 4:30 p.m. Hawaii time. It will be televised on ESPNU.
St. Thomas Aquinas won the 7A Florida state championship, 28-23 over Edgewater of Orlando, on Saturday.
Another GEICO bowl game is also set, according to the Atlanta Journal Consitution website. Marietta (Marietta, Ga.) will play Eastside Catholic (Sammamish, Wash.) on Friday at 6 p.m. Hawaii time at Bishop Gorman.
The GEICO State Champions Bowl Series organizers — Paragon Marketing — do not officially announce matchups until the games are set and final contracts are signed.
Marietta (13-2) defeated Lowndes (Valdosta, Ga.) 17-9 on Saturday in the 7A Georgia state championship game.
Eastside Catholic (12-1) won the Washington 3A state championship on Dec. 7 with a victory over O’Dea (Seattle)
One team ranked high nationally, Chandler (Chandler, Ariz.), declined an invitation to play in a GEICO bowl game despite finishing 13-0, according to AZCentral.com.
Chandler won Arizona’s first Open Division championship, defeating Saguara (Scottsdale, Ariz.) 42-35 on Dec. 7.
Of the four teams in the GEICO bowls, St. Thomas Aquinas is the highest ranked in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 national poll. The Raiders are No. 5, followed by Saint Louis at No. 6, Marietta at No. 11. Eastside Catholic is not ranked. Chandler is No. 10.
In the USA Today Super 25, St. Thomas Aquinas is No. 3, followed by Saint Louis at No. 5, Marietta at No. 13. Chandler is No. 9.
According to Chun, there were three other possible GEICO opponents for Saint Louis if St. Thomas Aquinas declined. One of those possibilities was Trinity Christian (14-1) of Cedar Hill, Texas. Former NFL star Deion Sanders is an assistant coach there and his son plays for the Tigers.
The other possibilities to play the Crusaders were Chandler or Marietta.
GEICO STATE CHAMPIONS BOWL SERIES HISTORY
2014 (at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Fla.)
>> No. 5 Booker T. Washington (Miami, Fla.) 34, No. 14 Bingham (South Jordan, Utah) 28
>> No. 11 Central (Miami, Fla.) 37, Bothell (Bothell, Wash.) 27
>> Trinity Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.) 35, No. 20 Eastside Catholic (Sammamish, Wash.) 21
2016 (at Ford Center at The Star, Frisco, Tex.)
>> No. 6 St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) 33, No. 19 Bingham (South Jordan, Utah) 25
>> No. 16 Chandler (Chandler, Ariz.) 44, Valdosta (Valdosta, Ga.) 24
2017(at Grand Canyon University, Phoenix, Ariz.)
>> No. 5 St. Frances Academy (Baltimore) 41, No. 19 Bingham (South Jordan, Utah) 3
>> No. 11 Chandler (Chandler, Ariz.) 55, Northwestern (Miami, Fla.) 20
>> No. 6 St. Frances Academy (Baltimore) 43, at Lee County (Leesburg, Ga.) 14
>> Eastside Catholic (Sammamish, Wash.) 17, at Centennial (Peoria, Ariz.) 0