Football was in the air but it was ice cream on the table at cafeteria at North Little Rock High School on Monday.
Both the football and ice cream were there for the same reason, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Kickoff Classic that will, for the first time, be played at North Little Rock on Saturday, Aug. 25.
It’s just that the teams involved won’t be North Little Rock, or anyone else in Pulaski County. The doubleheader will have Bauxite face Conway Christian at 10 a.m. and that will be followed by Southside Batesville and Warren meeting up in a game of Class 4A schools.
This is the third year that Blue Cross has served as the game’s title sponsor said CEO Curtis Barnett.
“This has state-wide reach and we’re a state-wide company,” Barnett said. “So, it just made sense for us to partner on this.”
Barnett also said that company was teaming up with Pack Shack to pack 160,000 meals between now and the next few weeks at community wide pep rallies.
After the games are played on Saturday, the Classic moves to Southern Arkansas University on Monday, Aug. 27 for another doubleheader between Fouke and Parkers Chapel at 5:30 p.m. and Smackover against Foreman to follow.
So that’s eight teams and eight communities, Barnett said, that will benefit from the meal packing efforts.
“That’s something we’re really proud of,” Barnett said. “It will help a lot of people.”
The meals won’t have ice cream though, that was for the players from each team who went head to head in a sundae showdown.
It was dominated by Warren’s Marcus Miller, a 6-4, 282-pound lineman, who appeared to swallow the sundae whole. Miller is one of the state’s top prospects and has offers from Arkansas and other SEC schools.
Warren’s Treylon Burks, the state’s best player, will also be on display and Chad Hooten called the 6-3, 227-pound senior one of the most highly recruited players in state history. Burks has offers from every major Division I school and plays every skill position on offense and ranges from defensive end to safety with linebacker in between on defense.
Hooten said that while, “North Little Rock is a new venue for us,” they were excited to have the games played there and expected they would draw a crowd. Hooten also thanked Bob Major, with the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau and Gary Davis, the athletics director at North Little Rock, for their help in making the arrangements to get the games there happen.
As for getting a local team, Barnett, who himself is a 1981 graduate of Sylvan Hills, said, with a laugh, “that’s up the Hootens.”
Maybe next year.