Elkton (Md.) Eastern Christian Academy is ready for the season, and it should be a full season this time.
After its inaugural season was cut to three games as opponents pulled out over concerns ECA was not sanctioned Maryland Public Secondary School Athletic Association, that is no longer an issue.
Aug 24 vs. Champagnat Catholic (Hialeah, Fla.)
Aug.30/31 at Benneker High (College Park, Ga.)
Sept. 6/7 at Madison (Fla.) County
Sept. 13/14 at Archbishop Rummel (Metairie, La.)
Sept. 20/21 vs. Friendship Collegiate (Washington, D.C.)
Oct. 11/12 at St. Ignatius (Cleveland)
Oct. 18/19 at Renaissance Christian (Pittsburgh)
Nov. 15/16 at Calver Hall (Baltimore)
Nov. 22/23 at Xavier High (Middltown, Conn.)
Nov. 28 vs. St. Frances (Baltimore)
The MPSSAA sanctioned the prospect-laden program, which has a 10-game schedule and could add more. That’s good news for the Honey Badgers, who have four class of 2014 prospects committed to BCS schools and a 2015 prospect committed to USC.
“All the sanctioning means is public schools around the country that are interested in playing us, we can play,” ECA coach Dwayne Thomas said this summer. “A lot of the private schools, it doesn’t make a difference. The MIAA schools, it doesn’t make a difference to them.
“We had to change the licensing from national connections to Eastern Christian, and once we got the licensing and re-applied, it was all set.”
ECA opens the season Saturday at 7 p.m. against Hialeah (Fla.) Champagnat Catholic at Middletown (Del.) Appoquinimink High, and it means the first game since last September for the program, which is led by 2015 USC quarterback commit David Sills.
“This team really has something to prove,” Sill said. “People overlook us after the 2013 class left, but we really have a lot of great talent on the team, a lot of young talent, and a lot of heart on the team.”
The return to the field also means a pair of Michigan commits, receiver Freddy Canteen and cornerback Brandon Watson, offensive tackle and West Virginia commit Jamie Herr and Tennessee commit and receiver Neiko Creamer will be able to ply their trade.
ECA also is home to cornerback Vashon Tucker, who holds four offers, class of 2016 linebacker Dele Harding, who has offers from Michigan and USC, and class of 2015 defensive end Malichi Felder.
However, to Thomas, getting sanctioned is a big step from a perception standpoint.
“It’s very important because there is some legitimacy behind it,” he said. “When you’re not sanctioned, regardless of how you run your program, it’s viewed as rogue. We don’t want to be viewed as a rogue program. We followed the process, it worked for us and we’re excited.”
Despite playing on three games in 2013, ECA sent seven players to BCS schools. Khaliel Rodgers and Kenny Bigelow signed with USC, Wendell Smallwood and Daikiel Shorts signed with West Virginia, Jahmere Irvin-Sills went to Mississippi State, Isaiah Johnson signed with Syracuse ad Dhamere Bradley went to Connecticut.