Danedri Thompson
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Fans can add one more game to the Gardner Edgerton High School football calendar

A Gardner Edgerton High School football player is ready to go during a game last fall. The Blazers will travel to East St. Louis this year to play in the 2nd Annual City of Champions Football Classic. File photo

next year and drop one league game.
In 2011, the team will travel to East St. Louis to play in the 2nd Annual City of Champions Football Classic. GEHS Head Coach Marvin Diener said in a press release that it was an honor for the team to be selected.
“We have had some really great opportunities in the past few seasons to play to large crowds in exciting environments, and to be asked to participate in the Classic in St. Louis is a step forward for the program,” he said.
In addition to playing in a nationally televised game against East St. Louis High School, team members will receive an all-expense paid trip and accommodations for the game.
GEHS is one of four teams who will play in the classic, and the only team selected from the Greater Kansas City Metropolitan Area.
“Not only is it a great opportunity for our boys athletically, but it is tremendously exciting to represent Gardner Edgerton, Kansas football, and the Kansas City metropolitan area in this type of arena playing against some of the best teams in the nation,” Diener said.
Other teams making the trip include Jeff City High School and Simeon Career Academy in Chicago which will face off in an afternoon game; and Whitehaven High School of Memphis, Tenn. and St. Rita High School also in Chicago which will face off in an early evening game.
The Blazer squad will take on East St. Louis at 8 p.m. Sept. 4 at Clyde C. Jordan Memorial Stadium.
The schedule addition will cause the Blazer squad to drop one league game. The team will not face Blue Valley West. Kent Glaser, GEHS activities director, said BVW was able to find another squad to replace the Blazers on its schedule.
Blue Valley West will now face a St. Louis squad, Imagine Prep Academy. The schedule changes will not affect league standings at the end of the season.
“When the (Eastern Kansas Leauge) expanded to eight teams, we already had a situation where not every league school can play everyone else,” Glaser explained.
Keeping GE’s contractual obligations to the EKL were a concern when the Blazers received the invite to the East St. Louis City of Champions game.
“We are very thankful for their cooperation in allowing our kids to take advantage of a great trip,” Glaser said.
Now that the schedules are lined up, Glaser said he’ll now concentrate on arranging travel for the cheerleaders, who will join the football team in St. Louis. The City of Champions organization is picking up the tab for GEHS football players’ food and lodging, while the Quarterback Club is arranging for the travel.
The East St. Louis City of Champions Foundation was organized by two former athletes,
Dana Howard and Julyon Brown. Brown said the pair first considered the idea of hosting a classic game four or five years ago.
“We started saying, we can do this ourselves with our high school at East St. Louis,” he said. “We knew we could draw crowds at our high school with its rich football history.”
Last year was the classic’s inaugural set of games. According to the foundation’s Facebook page, the pair created the organization to showcase inner city football talent in a big stage atmosphere.
Although Gardner-Edgerton doesn’t fit the mold of an inner-city school, Brown said the classic foundation also hopes to attract teams that are rich on talent like GEHS.