As the Grand Canyon State Gridiron Club continues to grow so do the ideas and impact the entity is having on football in the Valley.
The GCSGC has grown quickly since forming at the start of the 2017 football season with the idea of revitalizing the Ed Doherty Award, given to the state’s best football player, to the point where it will be the title sponsor of a college football game.
The #BeRelevant Classic between Arizona Christian and Texas Wesleyan will be on Sept. 22 at Shadow Mountain High.
The GCSGC plans on taking the Sooner Athletic Conference regular season game between the two NAIA programs and giving it a bowl game experience by having both teams visit local hospitals and schools, joint team dinners, commemorative jersey patches and ceremonial activities on game day including special recognition of the American armed services.
“The Gridiron Club could not be more excited about having two NAIA collegiate football programs coming together in Phoenix to compete,” GCSGC President Don Kile said. “The real story here is two universities, which under the guidance of their respective presidents, made recent decisions to create football programs where before there were none.”
With the junior college football programs in Maricopa County slated to be eliminated after the 2018 season, the NAIA programs in Arizona, including Ottawa University in Surprise, have become more relevant than ever.
“The Gridiron Club is proud to be in a position to showcase ACU and TWU in the first #BeRelevant Classic,” said Kile, whose father played basketball at TWU. “I am proud of the Gridiron Club for stepping up in this way. Especially now, with so much negative attention being paid to MCCCD decision to eliminate (JUCO football).”
TWU restarted its program in 2017 after a 76-year hiatus. The team disbanded in 1941 after the bombing of Pearl Harbor after the “entire group” enlisted in the Army to fight in World War II.
Arizona Christian, which debuted in 2014, was the logical choice to be involved in the initial #BeRelevant Classic.
“We are grateful to partner with Gridiron Club and to have their support raising the profile of NAIA college football here in Arizona,” ACU President Len Munsil said. “The high quality of play, and our reliance on Arizona high school star athletes, has quickly made ACU football a national force.”
Ticket and VIP package information for the #BeRelevant Classic will be announced soon, along with broadcast availability.
– Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send Mesa-based story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.