When Dana Howard and Julyon Brown established the City of Champions Foundation High School Football Classic four years ago they did so with the hope of attracting the best talent possible.
In 2013, the two East St. Louis football legends have reached that goal --and with more of a local flavor then ever before.
Southwestern Conference powers O'Fallon and Edwardsville will join the host Flyers into battle when the fourth annual City of Champions Foundation High School Football Classic on Sept. 7 at Cyde Jordan Stadium in East St. Louis.
Edwardsville, which reached the Class 7A quarterfinals a year ago, will kick off the day of gridiron action when they take on Soldan, of St. Louis, at noon. That game will be followed by O'Fallon battling Loyola Academy, Wilmette, at 2:45 p.m.
East St. Louis will take on Lombard-Montini in the finale at 5:45 p.m.
The appearance in the City of Champions Foundation High School Football Classic will be the first for both Edwardsville and O'Fallon, both of which should be among the top teams in the St. Louis area during the upcoming high school football season.
"We're very excited about the teams we have coming in this year. We feel that once again we have some excellent matchups for fans to come out and watch,'' Brown said. "We've been wanting to get Edwardsville and O'Fallon for a couple of years now. But they both had two-year commitments to play other schools. Hopefully we can have them both back next year and maybe switch the matchups or possibly bring back (Chicago) St. Rita or Jefferson City to play.''
Tickets for the City of Champions Foundation High School Football Classic are priced at $15 and are good for all three games. Brown said tickets will go on sale on Aug. 15 at the East St. Louis High Athletic office.
The Edwardsville-Soldan game was originally scheduled to be a home game for Edwardsville.
"We asked them (Edwardsville) to move the game here and be part of our classic,'' Brown said. "I'm not sure what Soldan has coming back this year, but I do know that Edwardsville coach (Matt) Martin always has his kids well prepared and ready to play.''
A perennial Chicago area power, Loyola will face an O'Fallon team which should be one of the top Class 7A teams in the state.
"O'Fallon has been one of the top Class 7A programs in the state the past few years and I think Loyola actually went to Ireland last year to play a game and so you they've been on the big stage before,'' Brown said. "That's a big-time game for both teams.''
Playing in big time games is nothing new for either East St. Louis or Lombard-Montini, a perennial state power.
Montini is the four-time defending Class 5A state champions. The Flyers' legendary program is always one of the best in the nation.
"We (East St. Louis) always welcome the best competition we can get year after year,'' Brown said "In Montini, you're talking about a team which just has great personnel, is disciplined and gets after you. We need to be ready to play.''
Brown and Howard said they are also "deeply appreciate" their sponsors for the event and the prep football fans in the St. Louis area who come out and support it so well.
"Our sponsors have been great,'' Brown said. "We have our five or six major sponsors that we deal with in The Casino Queen, Dave Sinclair Automotive, Skip Weber Chevrolet, Hooters and Southern Illinois Health Care and we wouldn't be able have an event like this without their help.''