JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Bold City Showcase is back again for a full day of televised high school football on WJXT Channel 4 this fall.
Airstream Ventures unveiled the third installment of the high school football event on Tuesday afternoon, bringing three games back to the Bolles School’s Skinner-Barco Stadium on Aug. 22.
All three games will be televised live on WJXT Channel 4 and streamed online on News4Jax.com.
In the noon game, Creekside will face Ribault, followed by Clay County rivals Oakleaf and Orange Park at 3:30 p.m. and Bolles and and West Nassau at 7. The event will follow all safety guidelines put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As sporting events start to get back on the schedule, we are excited the Bold City Showcase will again be played to start the football season,” said Bob Ellis, Vice President & General Manager of WJXT Channel 4, The Local Station. “We’re excited this year’s event will expand to feature teams from four counties in our area and provide each team with a first-class experience they’ll never forget.”
This year’s Showcase marks the third season in a row that WJXT will have broadcast high school sporting events live. In 2018, rivals Atlantic Coast and Mandarin played in the inaugural Bold City Showdown. The brand evolved into a multi-game, daylong format in 2019.
Last year’s Bold City Showcase featured three Saturday games (Bartram Trail-Lee, Atlantic Coast-Mandarin and Bolles-University Christian). WJXT also aired the 50th installment of the Northwest Classic between Raines and Ribault.
In addition to football, the Fortegra High School 9:12 Basketball Invitational in 2018 and ’19, as well as the High School 9:12 Baseball Classic in 2019 and ’20 were also shown or streamed on television or News4Jax.com.
The three games this year have a little bit of everything.
Creekside (5-5 in 2019) and Ribault (4-5) open the daylong event, meeting in a rematch of a stellar Week 1 game in 2019. The Knights erased a 13-point halftime deficit to edge the Trojans 27-20.
Creekside coach Sean McIntyre said that he knew of the plan to televise the game months ago, but waited on letting his players in on it. When the pandemic dragged on, McIntyre said that he thought that Knights players could use a boost.
“I felt like probably about four weeks into, five weeks into the school shutdown and us not being around, our kids needed some positive information and some positive energy. We were doing Zoom meetings once a week as a team, and we announced to the team [about playing on TV] and you could instantly, like all the little faces on those Zoom meetings, all perked up, like oh my gosh, we’re playing on TV,” he said.
“So, it’s been a really good motivating factor for us and tactic for us, even when the kids weren’t able to come to school. Like, hey, are you working? Are you going to be able to show out on TV for your community, for your school? Are you doing all those things we’re asking you to do? So, it’s been tremendous in that capacity.”
For Ribault, it’s a new era.
The Trojans hired Marlon White in the offseason from North Carolina and he’s been busy learning the ropes of Northeast Florida football. The Trojans played on WJXT last year, falling to rival Raines in the 50th installment of the Northwest Classic. White has done his share of combing through recent football history and knows all about last year’s Creekside game.
“It’s not just another game, it’s jumpstarting the season,” White said. “I think they get a chance to get exposure, a lot of the kids. It’s a big time thing now with exposure and getting on TV and getting noticed. But I also think it gives them a chance to kind of get the bad taste out of their mouth from the game last year. They lost 27-20. So, it kind of gives them a chance to kind of shake that season off from last year and try to get the season back started in the right direction.”
In Oakleaf (7-3) and Orange Park (5-5), it’s the second-oldest high school in Clay County (the Raiders) against the newest (the Knights). Oakleaf has a roster stacked with playmakers and has a case as the No. 1 team in the area entering 2020.
Knights coach Frank Garis said the opportunity to face a good coach in Tom MacPherson and a tough rival right out of the gate. To do it on the field turf of a facility like Bolles is an added bonus since Oakleaf travels to Georgia power Lowndes two weeks later. Orange Park won the first two games in the series, but Oakleaf has won the final six.
“All of that kind of going into it is a great opportunity for our program and for the kids,” Garis said. “And just the pageantry and the experience, like I was there watching the games last year, it’s different than your normal Week 1 Friday night game. So it is definitely a big time opportunity for us.”
From 2000-16, West Nassau (8-3) and Bolles (11-2) had been in the same district 13 times. So consider this the resumption of programs that are somewhat familiar with one another.
When the Florida High School Athletic Association shook up the playoff format in 2017 and placed teams in Class 4A and under in regions, it eliminated the chance that the Warriors would have to get past a Bolles or a Raines to reach the playoffs.
West Nassau has reached the postseason all three of the seasons since and has steadily built something under coach Rickey Armstrong, a 1988 Warriors graduate.
“We’ve been successful the last couple years and it would have been us and them playing for the regional [final] last year if we’d won,” Armstrong said. “The kids love it [being able to play on TV]. Public recognition is good. I always wanted to come back and for us to be successful while we’re here [as a staff] and get us on a good track. They’re ready for it. We’re all ready for it.”
Bolles is Bolles, with a Florida-record 11 state championships to its credit. The Bulldogs lost their Bold City Showdown debut last year to University Christian and then didn’t drop another game until the Class 4A state championship against Miami Booker T. Washington. Bulldogs coach Matt Toblin said that the staff will use what it learned from last year’s game and apply it to West Nassau.
“It was really cool to participate in. Hopefully in Year 2, we adapt and get better and handle the chaos of the Bold City Showcase,” he said. “I definitely think it matters [being on TV]. And again, that’s one of those things that leads up to kickoff. As soon as the ball kicks off, it’s a football game. It’s not third-and-4 and we say, ‘wait a minute, we’re on TV.’ We get a little pep in our step the week of. We talk in fall camp. That makes for a better preseason, building up to something cool.”
Tickets for the event will go on sale on July 1 through JaxHighSchool912.com. VIP tickets are available for all three games for $45 each that include access to a cool zone shaded tent, meal and drinks. Admission for each game is $10 each, with student tickets available through each school two weeks prior to the games.
“When we started High School 9:12, our vision was to create platforms to showcase our local high school programs and we are proud to put this event together again this year,” said Alan Verlander, founder and CEO of Airstream Ventures. “Last year drew over 20,000 fans for the event and we are looking forward to showcasing some of our best high school talent once again.”