No. 86 Lee County (Georgia) to play St. Frances Academy (Maryland) in GEICO State Champions Bowl Series

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Less than 48 hours after winning its second straight Georgia Class 6A championship, Lee County, ranked No. 86 in the High School Football America 100, will play St. Frances Academy of Maryland in the GEICO State Champions Bowl Series on December 22nd. The game will be played at Lee County High School in Leesburg, Georgia.

Most believed that Colquitt County would be SFA’s opponent, but Wednesday night, the Packers, ranked No. 4 in the High School Football America 100, were upset by No. 51 Milton 14-13 in the Georgia 7A championship game.

St. Frances makes this matchup extremely interesting, because the Panthers made national news earlier this year when teams in their league, the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association, refused to play them. The teams dropped the Panthers for a myriad of reasons — from protecting the health and safety of their players to issues with recruiting. 

St. Frances began the season ranked highly by all of the media ranking services, including High School Football America. We had the Panthers at No. 15 in our Preseason 100, but they dropped-out of the Top 100 that is created with our proprietary algorithm. The reason for the drop was the fact that with no teams from the MIAA willing to play St. Frances, their Strength of Schedule dropped dramatically after scrambling to find games against lesser opponents. The Panthers scheduled three Canadian high school football teams. 

Also hurting the Panthers national rankings with us is the fact that the team’s game against Pennsylvania 6A state champ St. Joseph’s Prep, ranked No. 5 nationally right now, didn’t count after officials cancelled the game with St. Frances leading 13-7 with about six minutes to play in the third quarter. Weather also affected SFA’s scheduled game against a solid Robert E. Lee squad from Jacksonville, Florida. The team decided to not to travel to Florida, because of possible bad weather.

St. Frances’ toughest opponent, so far, has been Christ the King from New York City. SFA won the September 7 meeting 41-6.

While St. Frances dropped-out of our Top 100, some opinion polls kept them highly-ranked. Our partners at USA TODAY currently have them ranked No. 5 in the Super 25, while has them at No. 6 and has them at No. 11.

Currently, St. Frances is ranked No. 122 in our algorithm rankings. A win over Lee County could push the Panthers into the Top 100.

The Lee County/St. Frances Academy game will be the first of two games in the GEICO State Champions Bowl Series. After the Trojans and Panthers play on ESPNU, Arizona 5A champ Centennial will play Washington state champ Eastside Catholic.

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About the Author

Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.