Booty and his teammates from the Pelican State have committed to traveling to California in October for a nationally-televised matchup against De La Salle of Concord, owners of a national-record 138-game win streak.
De La Salle athletic director Terry Eidson confirmed to Student Sports during a telephone call on Monday that the game against Evangel Christian "is going to happen."
"Both teams have signed contracts and we're going to play," Eidson said. "Right now, it's going to be on a Friday night (Oct. 24) at Diablo Valley College, but the location could still change. We also don't know if it's going to be on ESPN or ESPN2."
Talk of the matchup surfaced shortly after the 2002 season, when De La Salle completed another unbeaten season and was ranked No. 1 in the Student Sports FAB 50 national rankings for the third time in four years. Evangel Christian won the Class 5A state championship in Louisiana for the third time in four years with mostly juniors and sophomores in starting positions. Eagles' head coach Dennis Dunn has already told Doug Huff of Student Sports that he thinks the 2003 team will be the school's best ever.
Prior to finalizing its agreement to come to California, the ambitious Evangel Christian program had already set up games this fall against Hoover of Hoover, Alabama, Longview of Longview, Texas, and Rockhurst of Kansas City, Mo. A story on an Evangel Christian web site also has mentioned the Eagles may open the season against Norland of Miami, which was the Class 6A state champ last year in Florida.
Hoover and Rockhurst were state champs in their respective states and Longview was the only team to defeat Evangel last season. That's why there's no guarantee that the De La Salle-Evangel clash will match up the nation's No. 1 and No. 2 teams. Evangel is a good bet to start out No. 2 in the preseason behind De La Salle, but it could easily suffer a defeat or even two before facing the Spartans.
The De La Salle-Evangel Christian matchup also could be good for teams in Missouri, Alabama and Texas. If Evangel, for example, drops a game to Rockhurst and then comes out to California and ends De La Salle's streak, Rockhurst would then move into a much more prominent spot in the national rankings.
De La Salle had already secured permission from the Bay Valley Athletic League, of which it is a member, as well as league member Antioch to forgo a game against Antioch so it could schedule Evangel Christian instead. De La Salle is an independent member of the BVAL in football, so not playing Antioch will not alter the league standings at all since De La Salle does not compete for a league title.
This year's De La Salle team figures to be led by five seniors who all are likely to receive Div. I college scholarships -- cornerback Willie Glasper, wide receiver/corner Cameron Colvin, runningback/safety Jackie Bates, linebacker Parker Hanks and linebacker/tight end Terrence Kelly.
In addition to Booty, who will be entering his third season as Evangel's starter and recently committed to USC, the Eagles also will feature returning standouts Jacob Hester (RB/LB), Chris Bowers (DE) and Detrick James (RB).
De La Salle played its first out-of-state opponent last September and defeated St. Louis of Honolulu, 31-21, at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.
Recent weeks also has seen speculation that De La Salle might travel to New Jersey to face two-time state champ Don Bosco of Paterson, N.J. Eidson said that trip was called off when Don Bosco was unable to get permission from its league to play a non-league game.
"The organizers of that game said they could appeal, but we told them to forget it and that we wouldn't come anyway," Eidson said. "We thought they had already gotten permission to play when they initially called."
Since 1998, Evangel Christian is the only team other than De La Salle to finish No. 1 in the Student Sports FAB 50. The Eagles were No. 1 in 1999 when Brock Berlin was their quarterback. De La Salle was led that year by runningback/linebacker D.J. Williams. Those two are now teammates at the University of Miami.