Border Classic games give Florida-Georgia teams a different experience

New opponents, televised games make Peach, Sunshine state clashes unique

The first-ever Georgia-Florida Border Classic includes 14 teams from Georgia and Florida facing off in three days of high-profile high school football match-ups. (WJXT)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Bragging rights. A chance to get better. The chance to face an unfamiliar opponent.

The television aspect and magnified exposure for players and the programs.

It’s Border Classic week as News4JAX and WJXT head to the Peach State for seven games of high school football action. All seven games will be streamed on News4JAX+ and five of those will be televised live on WJXT Channel 4.

BORDER CLASSIC | A glance at the schedule

One caveat of a state against state clash is the aspect of facing an opponent who teams know very little about. Among the matchups for the seven games, only University Christian and Charlton County have met in the past, according to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association. And those teams last played in 1993.

“We’ve pretty much played the same teams year in year out around here,” said Glynn Academy coach Rocky Hidalgo. “So, to get somebody new on the schedule, and like I said, coach against new guys, that’s exciting. It’ll be fun.”

West Nassau (1-1) and McIntosh County (1-1) open things Thursday with a 4:30 p.m. showdown that will be streamed on News4JAX+. Then the Red Terrors (2-1) face News4JAX No. 5 Creekside (2-0) in the second game of the event. It’s also the first of five games in the event that will be televised this week on WJXT.

“That’s why we’re so apt to doing things like this, it’s all about the kids. We put kids here first here at Creekside High School in our football program. It’s all about the kids,” said Knights coach Sean McIntyre. “So, anytime you have an opportunity to go and do something that is not a normal experience for high school football team, we jump at that opportunity.”

The Knights know a bit about the local TV experience. They beat Ribault 16-7 in the Bold City Showcase at Bolles last year to open the season. McIntyre said the opportunity to play in an event like this is multifaceted for the program. One of the biggest, he said, is that it’s a bit different than a normal gameday routine.

“You know how South Georgia football is supposed to be. So, they’re gonna be physical up front, they do a great job of executing on the back end,” McIntyre said. “We’re really excited to play a team we’re not familiar with and obviously to be on TV is just the cherry on top.”

Hidalgo said that the experience of coaching in games that are televised bring a special atmosphere to the schools and players involved. He’s been apart of games like that in the Corky Kell Classic and in leading Glynn to the state championship game in 2015.

“The other thing is you want to go out represent your school and community. It’s really important that you go out there and show great character and you play really hard. For people from outside of Glynn County, there’ll be a lot of people from down in Florida that’ll watch us for the first time. And so, you know, we need to represent our school and our community well.”

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.