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Xfinity Challenge to bring N.J. programs to Rio Tinto

Published February 12, 2013 2:31 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

This fall, Rio Tinto Stadium will once again play host to the other kind of football.

On Tuesday morning, Rio Tinto Stadium announced the pairings for the third annual edition of the Xfinity High School Football Challenge, a doubleheader featuring Utah-based teams Jordan and Alta tangling with nationally-ranked, out-of-state competition.

The 2013 Xfinity High School Football Challenge will be played the weekend of Saturday, Sept. 14, and will feature defending state 5A champion Jordan High School squaring off against perennial national power Bergen Catholic out of Oradell, N.J.

Another top New Jersey program, Allentown High School, will also visit the Wasatch Front to face Alta High School, 5A quarterfinalists from a year ago.

"Last year's event featured probably the best high school football game in the state with St. John Bosco defeating Jordan in the last seconds, so we are really looking forward to a great set of games," said Rio Tinto Stadium President Bill Manning.

The "Crusaders" from Bergen Catholic finished with an 8-4 mark en route to runner-up status in the state's non-public Group 4 classification, dropping those four games by only a combined 17 points. Expectations are high for the 2013 season for the program which produced Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing.

The Crusaders defeating long-time rival – and 2012 Xfinity participant – Don Bosco Prep last fall. Bergen Catholic still seeks a title to go along with the 43-18 record in the last five seasons, four of which have resulted in runner-up finishes.

"Bergen Catholic is honored to be included in the 2013 Xfinity Football Challenge," said Jack McGovern, the school's director of athletics. "We would like to thank all of the sponsors for affording us this amazing opportunity to help promote the Bergen Catholic football program across the country. We are excited to face national powerhouse Jordan High School, and for the chance to play at beautiful Rio Tinto Stadium. At B.C., we always strive to play the best competition throughout the country, and we certainly have found it with the 2013 Xfinity Football Challenge."

Last year, Allentown put up great passing numbers all season and earned a school-record nine wins. Fourth-year head coach Jay Graber has heightened expectations for the once-struggling program in the prep football hotbeds of New Jersey, posting a 21-10 mark.

"Allentown High School would first like to thank everyone who has made this opportunity possible," said Graber. "Our program is very excited to be invited to play in the 3rd Annual Xfinity High School Football Challenge. It will be a great experience for our student-athletes, and we are eager to compete against a tough Alta football team."

Class 5A Jordan lost to St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.) 34-33 at Rio Tinto on Sept. 29, 2012, the lone loss of the year for the eventual state champion Beetdiggers. Alta lost to visiting Don Bosco (Ramsey, N.J.) 52-24 later the same day.

Tickets for the Xfinity High School Football Challenge will go on sale to the public in late summer 2013, with advance and day-of-event pricing to be announced via http://www.RioTintoStadium.com.

Both contests will be televised locally over Comcast cable systems, while football fans across Utah can listen to both games live on ESPN 700 and ESPN700Sports.com.