The game between nationally ranked teams Bradenton (Fla.) Manatee and Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline is on the rocks, according to Manatee coach Joe Kinnan and Skyline athletic director Ryan Gilbert.
"We are trying to save the game, and both teams want to play, but it doesn't look good," Kinnan said.
The game, scheduled for Sept. 14, was originally to be financed by Next Level Sports and feature two of the top teams from either coast, as well an elite quarterback matchup between five-star Max Browne and four-star Cord Sandberg.
The problem, according to Kinnan, is that money originally lined up from an airline sponsor was pulled as the concern over gas prices rose.
"They said that if gas climbs to six dollars, they can not afford to be involved," Kinnan said.
A source close to the situation estimated the payout for a flight to Washington would be around a $45-thousand investment.
Gilbert said that it is a priority to make this game happen with Manatee before the school looks for other opponents.
"We want to figure this thing out with them," he said. "I have built a good relationship with Joe over the last couple of months and it is clear that both sides want this game to happen."
The two spoke this morning as the news was breaking on the potential of the game falling through.
"Joe called me and we talked about it first thing this morning when I got into the office," Gilbert said.
"We are kind of like, 'What do we do now?'"
Kinnan said that both schools are looking to find ways to make the game happen, including reaching out to other promoters.
"I called Paragon (Marketing)," Kinnan said. "They may have something on Labor Day at four, so that would work.
"Right now, though, it seems as though we have to get it onto television or it is not going to happen."
Calls to Next Level Football were not immediately returned.
Kinnan also fears that Manatee's game with Washington (D.C.) Friendship Academy could also be affected. That game was also to be financed through Next Level and may be in jeopardy.
"We think we can make that one happen," he said. "We have big plans for that to be part of a Wounded Warrior game and have a lot of special things planned for it.
"It is disappointing either way, but we are working toward a resolution."
Manatee won the Class 7A football title in Florida last year, finishing ranked No. 11 in the RivalsHigh 100, while Skyline won the Washington Class 4A title and ranked No. 94 nationally. Both are expected to begin the year ranked nationally.