Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield Kickoff Classic features state champs, contenders

Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield Kickoff Classic features state champs, contenders

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Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield president and CEO Curtis Barnett (top) watches Danville's Doug Harper (left) defeat Conway Christian's Sam Hicks in an ice cream (MarketPlace Grill's chocolate mess) eating contest Tuesday during a news conference for the Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield Kickoff Classic. Photo by Rhonda Sharp.

LITTLE ROCK – Football. Food banks. Fearless fans.

More than 250 high school football players and their coaches gathered Tuesday (July 25) in the lobby of the Statehouse Convention Center to celebrate their selection for participation in the 2017 Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield Kickoff Classic, presented by, and to get ready for Pep Rallies with a Purpose in the teams’ hometowns.

Teams selected to participate in this competitive, championship-caliber high school football showcase for 2017 are from Camden Harmony Grove, Conway Christian, Danville, Hamburg, Hampton, Prescott, Pea Ridge and Smackover.

“This is arguably the best lineup of teams in the event’s 18-year history,” said Chad Hooten of Hootens Arkansas Football. “The eight participating teams combined for 84 wins last year. All eight advanced in the playoffs, and three made it to the state championship game. Not only will all eight teams get to start this season in grand style at college stadiums, Arkansas Blue Cross enables the players, cheerleaders and band members to help their communities while having a lot of fun before the games.”

The 2017 Kickoff Classic schedule:
Monday, August 28 at UCA, Conway
Pea Ridge vs. Hamburg (5:30 p.m.)
Danville vs. Conway Christian (7:30 p.m.)

Tuesday, August 29 at SAU, Magnolia
Camden Harmony Grove vs. Smackover (5:30 p.m.)
Hampton vs. Prescott (7:30 p.m.)

“The heartbeat of our company is serving Arkansans,” said Curtis Barnett, president and chief executive officer of Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield. “This is the second year for Arkansas Blue Cross to sponsor the Kickoff Classic and we couldn’t be happier to be supporting the teams and the towns where they live with Pep Rallies with a Purpose events. Because our state is ranked 2nd in the nation in the number of people facing food insecurity, we are reaching out in advance of the games and making a deeper investment in the Arkansas communities where these students, coaches, teachers and administrators, parents and other folks live, learn, work and play.

“We've traveled to the teams’ hometowns and worked side-by-side with the football teams, cheer teams and band members to pack meals for their local food banks. Following our community service together, we held community pep rallies in their towns to celebrate the students’ hard work and support their participation in the Kickoff Classic.”

“We appreciate Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield affirming youth across the state and being involved in a positive activity like high school football,” said Hooten. Following the Pep Rallies with a Purpose, the teams will meet on the gridiron in late August.

Founded in 1948, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, is the largest health insurer in Arkansas. Arkansas Blue Cross and its affiliates have more than 2,700 employees. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is comprised of 36 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans that collectively provide healthcare coverage for nearly 106 million members — one in three Americans.

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