ESPN chooses Kennedy Catholic, Bethel to kick off 2019 season with nationally-televised game

Big-play Kennedy Catholic won’t have to wait very long to show the country just how good its offense is.

ESPN announced its 2019 fall high school football lineup Tuesday, and the Burien-based Lancers are on national television right out of the gate – Sept. 6 against Bethel on ESPNU.

The non-league matchup will be held at 7 p.m. at CenturyLink Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks.

“Playing on national TV – playing at CenturyLink Field – is a tremendous opportunity for our entire community,” Kennedy Catholic athletic director Sam Reed said. “It’s a ‘memory moment,’ for not only our players and coaches, but also for our cheerleaders, our band and our entire support system.

“It’s a great way to start the season, and the school year, that’s for sure.”

Reed said the two parties made initial contact about the possibility of scheduling a game last April.

By May, ESPN was in discussion about having the Lancers play in the first weekend of September – but only on Friday night.

That is when Reed had to start making other arrangements on a site, given that Highline Stadium was already booked with two games Sept. 6.

With help from the Seahawks, Reed secured CenturyLink Field as a host stadium. And in late June, the game was finalized.

And what a showdown season opener it should be.

Kennedy Catholic is led by quarterback Sam Huard, arguably the top pocket passer in the 2021 class who has given the University of Washington an oral commitment. He is the son of former Puyallup High School, UW and NFL quarterback Damon Huard.

Huard has a plethora of college prospects to throw to, including senior Justin Baker, who just pledged to California on Sunday night.

Juniors Jabez Tinae and Junior Alexander are also part of the receiving corps, and have various FBS offers.

And the biggest offseason addition for the Lancers was a familiar face – linebacker/defensive end Sav’ell Smalls, a top-10 recruit nationally in the class of 2020.

Bethel had it share of high-profile recruits, including Oregon commit Peter Latu and his younger brother, Will Latu, a junior whose top five school are all Pac-12 programs, including the UW.

Last season, two Washington programs had games televised on ESPN. Graham-Kapowsin opened its season on the road at Sheldon (Ore.) in September, and Eastside Catholic was one of four schools chosen for the GEICO State Champions Bowl Series in December, beating Centennial (Ariz.) on the road.

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