For high school football fans, Trojan Stadium will be the place to be when the season opens next weekend, Aug. 26-27.
The first Chambersburg Peach Bowl will bring in 12 teams to play six games over a two-day stretch, and five of those teams were in the PIAA Championship playoffs a year ago.
The event will be capped Saturday night at 8:30 when Chambersburg opens its season against Central Bucks East.
The Peach Bowl opens Friday at 5:30 when Steel-High plays Bishop Canevin. The Rollers, PIAA champions in 2020, fell in the first round last year and Bishop Canevin reached the semifinals in Class 1A.
At 8:30 Friday, Harrisburg, a 6A quarterfinalist last year, takes on Bishop Pallotti, a strong program from Maryland.
Saturday’s opener, at 11:30 a.m., features Fairfield vs. Windber, followed by York High against Woodland Hills of District 7 at 2:30.
The 5:30 game features two teams that suffered narrow losses in PIAA championship games last December — Bishop McDevitt in 4A and Philadelphia’s Imhotep Charter (5A). Plenty of future Div. I athletes will compete in that game.
Tickets for the showcase are $10 per day and fans can leave the stadium and come back later if they prefer. All proceeds benefit the Chambersburg Area Sports Booster Club and the funds will be used for two projects: starting a Chambersburg Hall of Fame, and starting a fund that will award a scholarship for one male and one female student athlete at CASHS each year.
Trojan athletic director Ron Coursey, the architect of the event, said, “You want to create good matchups on paper, and I think all six games seem to matched pretty well.”
Chambersburg’s opponent was originally supposed to be Canon-McMillan, but C-M had to withdraw because of scheduling issues. The CB East Patriots, a District 1 Class 6A team, were 6-5 a year ago.
Coursey said, “When Canon-Mac dropped out we had to scramble to find a team, and fortunately, we got connected through a mutual friend.”
Chambersburg hosted the Hoops for Harmony basketball showcase last January, also put together by Coursey, but getting teams to commit for football would seem a tougher task than basketball, since teams only have 10 regular season games.
“I think first and foremost, coaches are looking for good experiences for their team,” Coursey said. “You’re taking your kids out of town, maybe staying overnight, so it’s a bonding experience and you’re giving your kids something to remember.
“I think being in a showcase like this is appealing to some teams. They get to play against a potential postseason opponent, and you get lots of eyes on you.”
The challenge then becomes getting schools to commit and getting the matchups right.
“Bishop McDevitt is a good example,” Coursey said. “They were a state runner-up last year and are really good again. As soon as I contacted them, they wanted to be included, but it wasn’t easy finding them an opponent because some teams didn’t want to play them.”
Coursey, who said he spent four months working on the Peach Bowl (named, of course, for the famous “Chambersburg peaches”), said he did not make it a priority.
“My primary allegiance is to the Chambersburg Area School District,” he said. “I get my work done for them, and then I can work on these other events. I just think it’s a good thing, and we have beautiful facilities and a central location.”