October 28, 2011
There are few games that could possibly receive more hype than the matchup on Friday night between Miami (Fla.) Central High and Miami (Fla.) Northwestern High. The two schools, both of which are annual Florida state title contenders and tend to hang out in and around the RivalsHigh 100 at all times. Undefeated (6-0) Miami Central is currently ranked No. 66 in the country, for example.
Yet this year, the intra-city matchup carries added weight both because of circumstance and promotional hype. Regarding circumstance, Northwestern has to find a way to win the game just to qualify for the state playoffs after falling on a bizarre free kick field goal in the closing seconds against Miami (Fla.) Belen Jesuit School a week prior.
And then there's the gear, which accounts for the aforementioned "promotional hype." When the two Miami teams take the field on Friday, they'll be sporting brand new uniforms custom made by Nike as part of the brand's "Nike Pro Combat" line. The new duds will feel and perform just like the uniforms worn by college programs like Ohio State, Michigan State and Miami, among others, adding a little extra pizzaz to an annual grudge match that had plenty of that already.
You can see Central's uniforms for Friday night above, and Northwestern's below after both were leaked on Twitter. The Central unis appear to be a near duplicate of traditional Michigan State uniforms with a different helmet, while the Northwestern uniforms take a bold all-black approach.
Of course, Central and Northwestern aren't the first schools to don Nike Pro Combat uniforms for a big game. The issue is that the first schools to do so brought some unwanted ignominy on themselves by doing so. Nike kicked off its high school Pro Combat donations by giving new uniforms to Los Angeles (Calif.) Garfield High and Los Angeles (Calif.) Roosevelt High before the two teams' 2010 faceoff.
The uniforms certainly created a splash, but there was one problem: Officially, Garfield's all-black uniforms violated the California Interscholastic Federation's City Section uniform rules, because Garfield had not declared black as one of its school colors.
That bizarre scenario meant that Garfield technically lost the Roosevelt game by forfeit, and couldn't wear the new unis again, at least in the 2010 season. The school's football program was also later put on probation for wearing the illegal uniforms in the game. But Garfield brought them back out during the 2011 season after the school colors discrepancy was fixed, and is now sporting the Nike Pro Combat gear during its 2011 campaign.
Such an administrative snafu seems unlikely for the Central and Northwestern game, which should attract plenty of attention regionally and nationally. And, if the game does prove to be the one that keeps the Bulls from the playoffs, at least they'll know that they went down looking awfully good.