Dwyer-Glades Central Labor Day game on ESPN brings national spotlight
Saturday, August 20, 2011
by Jeff Greer
High school football fanatics in Palm Beach County already were excited about the Labor Day matchup between local powers Dwyer and Glades Central.
But when ESPN officially announced last week it would broadcast the game - the first ever nationally televised high school game in county history - the buzz turned to a fever pitch.
Glades Central senior linebacker Dominique Gibson was on his computer Wednesday when he spotted a reporter's Twitter post about ESPN picking up the game.
Moments later, teammate Tanner Redish, the starting quarterback, was calling him.
"He was going crazy, he was excited," Gibson said. "We can't wait to play."
In previous years, the county's most hyped game is usually the annual Muck Bowl, played between perennial powers Glades Central and Pahokee (12 state titles among them and boasting countless current and former NFL players), at the end of the regular season.
But with Pahokee struggling of late, and the fact that Dwyer and Glades Central have been among the best teams in the area recently, many consider this 'The Game of the Year.'
Dwyer Athletic Director Tom Pagley said he can't imagine what kind of planning is being done for the game, to be played at 4 p.m. on Sept. 5 at Glades Central's Effie Grear Stadium .
"Any high school football game is like putting on a wedding," he said. "This is like putting on a wedding for (Donald) Trump."
Glades Central Athletic Director Edwin James expects the game to be similar to the Muck Bowl in terms of preparation.
"We're treating it like we would treat (the Muck Bowl)," he said. "We anticipate similar crowds and a similar security setup."
James said Glades Central is considering adding extra bleachers to its stadium, which he said seats between 6,000 and 7,000.
He said the school received $1,000 from ESPN's marketing partner Paragon Marketing Group for hosting the game. Rashid Ghazi of Paragon, a Chicago-based company that negotiates contracts with schools on behalf of ESPN, said his company chose this game because "we wanted to show viewers the aura of the muck. We had not pursued that story angle yet."
Ghazi said his company looks for schools that have a lot of Division I talent and returning starters, both of which Dwyer and Glades Central possess. Both schools were among the top 25 in Sports Illustrated's pre-season national rankings, with Dwyer 11th and Central 22nd.
"It's going to be crazy," Florida Gators receiver Deonte Thompson, a former Glades Central Raider, said. "It's going to be wild, very wild."
Thompson said he and Florida's Dwyer products - Jacoby Brissett, Gerald Christian, Robert Clark and Matt Elam - will probably get together to watch the game.
Expect there to be lots of trash talk if they do.
"Clark's from Belle Glade," Thompson said. "He pretty much is a Raider. He just moved over (to Dwyer) when he was in high school. But he grew up with me. He's a Glades Central Raider. It's in his heart."
When informed of Thompson's comments, Dwyer coach Jack Daniels texted Clark. Not a chance, Clark replied.
"I'd disown his (behind)," Daniels said.
ESPN asked both schools to compile books of biographical information on coaches and players for the broadcasters. That, plus other paperwork, must be completed by Monday, Pagley said.
ESPN will have an on-site production truck and six cameras around the field. An ESPN spokesperson confirmed that former college quarterback Tom Luginbill will be providing color commentary for the game, though the play-by-play man hasn't been picked yet.
Staff writers Jason Lieser and Matt Porter contributed to this report.