Two schools pull out of games against nationally-ranked foe because it remains unsanctioned

Cameron Smith

The Elkton, Maryland school known as Eastern Christian Academy has one of the nation's best rosters of top to bottom talent. It features 46 players, many of which are legitimate Division I prospects. Chief among them is Class of 2015 quarterback David Sills V, who famously committed to play college football at USC when he was still in middle school. The school, in its first year of operation after many of the team's players broke away from Red Lion Christian Academy in Bear, Del., has even been the subject of a full length feature article in Sports Illustrated.

David Sills V and David Sills IV of Eastern Christian Academy — Gary Bogdon/Sports Illustrated
David Sills V and David Sills IV of Eastern Christian Academy — Gary Bogdon/Sports Illustrated

Still, ECA has one significant problem: Teams don't want to compete against it because they don't know whether ECA will be considered a legitimate program. At this point, Maryland officials have yet to certify that ECA is a legitimate school.

According to the Philadelphia Daily News, that uncertainty has now cost ECA an early season game, with Pennsylvania power Philadelphia (Penn.) West Catholic backing out of its season opener against ECA, which was scheduled for Friday night. At almost the exact same time, another school on ECA's schedule -- Washington, D.C. program Friendship Collegiate -- also cancelled its scheduled date with the Honey Badgers citing similar concerns.

"There were just too many questions," West Catholic coach Brian Fluck told the Daily News. "I spoke with people from the PIAA and my administration. You worry about what might happen later in the season. Could the fact that we played this team come back to hurt our status? We weren't told not to play them. But no one thought it was worth it to take a chance."

It's not hard to understand why Maryland officials would have a healthy dose of skepticism about ECA's academic bona fides. The school opened only after David Sills IV, the father of David Sills Jr. and one of the founders of ECA, needed a place for his son to star after he decided to leave Red Lion Christian.

The resulting search eventually led to the creation of ECA, which functions more as a club, with its students taking classes online with an entity known as National Connections Academy. The school has 54 total students 46 of which are male. It's no coincidence that all 46 boys at the school compete on the school's football team.

Still, things seemed to be in order for the 2012-13 season, with the team lining up a competitive regional schedule and earning plaudits from national polls, the one produced by RivalsHigh among them (with good reason; the Honey Badgers did win their first game 62-3, after all). Now, those plans may be under threat as other schools could consider following West Catholic's risk averse move.

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