Buford football to play top-10 national program St. Frances

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Several Georgia teams lining up marque interstate games for 2023

St. Frances Academy, a consensus top-10 national program from Baltimore, will be playing at Georgia state-power Buford in a season opener Aug. 18, Prep Gridiron Logistics announced Thursday morning.

That likely will stand as the top interstate game for a Georgia team in 2023, but several others are lining up top out-of-state opponents.

Also announced this week was a doubleheader in Moultrie for Aug. 19 that will have Lowndes against Christ School of Arden, N.C., and Colquitt County against Dutch Fork, South Carolina’s Class 5A champion. The doubleheader is called the Georgia-Carolinas Challenge.

Announced last month was a game between Valdosta and Massillon of Ohio on Aug. 18 that will be played at Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium as part of a four-game event. Valdosta ranks No. 1 and Massillon No. 3 in all-time victories nationally.

Meanwhile, Milton and Creekside of Fulton County are planning big interstate games.

Milton will play Western High of Davie, Fla., on Aug 24 and is negotiating with Greenville Christian of Mississippi for the Freedom Bowl on Aug. 17.

Creekside is playing at East St. Louis, Ill., on Sept. 2 and is working on a home game against Christopher Columbus of Miami or St. Peter’s Prep of New Jersey for Aug. 25.

The Buford-St. Frances game, which will be livestreamed on FloSports Football, could pit preseason top-10 teams.

“It will be the top game in America involving a public program,’’ said Joe Maimone, founded of Prep Gridiron Logistics, which created the matchup. “Publics normally never step up to play a school this good.”

Buford, ranked No. 1 in Class 7A until losing to Walton in the second round, will return two of the state’s top three prospects. They are defensive back/wide receiver K.J. Bolden and defensive lineman Eddrick Houston. Both are uncommitted five-star recruits.

St. Frances, founded in 1828 and the oldest historically Black Catholic high school in the country, has lost only three games since 2017. Those were against Mater Dei of California, St. Thomas Aquinas of Florida and IMG Academy of Florida. St. Frances didn’t play a 2020 season because of COVID-19.

Players on the 2022 St. Frances team had more than 700 Division I scholarship offers. St. Frances’ best returning player is Michael Van Buren, a consensus top-10 quarterback nationally.

St. Frances has come to Georgia once before and defeated Lee County’s previously undefeated 2018 Class 6A champion 43-13 in a postseason game in Leesburg.