St. Thomas Aquinas earns invite to GEICO State Champions Bowl Series; will face nationally ranked Bingham

PHOTO CREDIT: Jake Perper/FHSF is a partner of USA TODAY High School Sports

St. Thomas Aquinas, the 2016 Class 7A state champion, which is currently ranked No. 5 in the USA TODAY Super 25 will play No. 11 Bingham (South Jordan), Utah’s state 5A champion, in the first of two matchups in the GEICO State Champions Bowl Series Dec. 23 at The Star in Frisco, Texas, known as the Dallas Cowboys’ “World Headquarters.”

The other matchup will be between Valdosta, which won the Georgia AAAAAA state title, and Chandler, Ariz., which won its state 6A title.

Both games will air live on ESPNU, with the Aquinas-Bingham game set for 6 p.m. (ET), followed by the Valdosta-Chandler game at 9:30 p.m.

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The series is a reprise of sorts of a similar series following the 2014 series, which featured three games involving state champions from Florida, Utah and Washington and was played in Boca Raton, Fla.

All the teams have plenty of tradition and star power.

St. Thomas Aquinas has more current alumni in the NFL than any other high school and the Raiders have won 10 state titles, the second most in the state. The Raiders (12-2) have 15 players who have committed to BCS schools, though their top player, wide receiver Trevon Grimes, is out with a knee injury. The defense includes four Top 100 ranked seniors, led by linebacker Tyler Dunning.

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Bingham (14-0) has won state titles in two of the past five three seasons and the Miners have won six state titles since 2006. Bingham is the only team of the four that also played in the Boca Raton series. Bingham’s top-rated senior is defensive tackle Jay Tufele.

Chandler is the oldest public high school in Arizona and the Wolves have won back-to-back state titles. Chandler’s top-rated seniors are running back T.J. Green, who is committed to Oregon State and ran for 2,000 yards this season, and wide receiver Johnny Johnson, an Oregon commit.

The Wolves finished 12-2 after losing two of their first four games. In their four playoffs wins, Chandler outscored its opponents 208-60.

Coach Shaun Aguano told Gannett partner AZCentral that pride is at stake, because, “We’re representing Arizona, too.”

Valdosta (14-1), is known as Winnersville because of its great football tradition. The Wildcats have won 921 games with only 221 losses and have won 24 state championships. Their top receiver is Joseph Ingram.

Their lone loss was to Colquitt County (Moultrie), 45-24, in late September.

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