IMG Academy's elite football team faced off against an Ohio-based school named Bishop Sycamore earlier in August and it wasn't a pretty result. IMG Academy dominated in a 58-0 win, even though the game allegedly featured two powerhouse high school football programs.
The Bradenton, Florida-based IMG Academy is annually one of the top programs in the country and boasts several four- and five-star prospects on a yearly basis. Bishop Sycamore indicated to ESPN it was on a similar competitive level, but questions about the program's strength and legitimacy arose shortly after its nationally-televised drubbing
In the fallout of the controversy, Bishop Sycamore fired head coach Roy Johnson. The school announced the decision on Tuesday. The school's director, Andre Peterson, said "a lot of things" contributed to Johnson's firing, including the coach's injury tracking and a pending fraud charge.
"Roy has honestly been like a little brother to me in the sense that when really we were launching Bishop Sycamore, there were some things that we wanted to do better and could have done better," Peterson told USA Today. "I value him as a person, but I just thought right now he needed to step down, he needed to go. We just decided to mutually part ways."
Bishop Sycamore allegedly claims to make its home in Columbus, Ohio. However, according to The Sporting News, it appears that the school might not be real. Schools that boast the name "Bishop" usually are associated with the catholic church and are named in honor of local bishops or historic bishops. However, The Diocese of Columbus, Ohio, doesn't have any Bishop Sycamores throughout its history.
According to the Massillon Independent, Bishop Sycamore is described as an online charter school that students can attend. In addition, the school isn't listed in the Ohio High School Athletic Association's directory of schools, which leaves more question marks.
Instead of being a OHSAA school, Bishop Sycamore is reportedly a school in the Texas Christian Athletic League, which is another flag. However, Bishop Sycamore isn't the only non-Texas school in the conference as Ocean Springs Grace Baptist is a member and is located in Mississippi. It's worth noting that Duncanville High School, which is located in Texas, does still have Bishop Sycamore on its schedule for the 2021 season.
As far as Bishop Sycamore's experience on the gridiron goes, it's questionable to say the least.
The Centurions don't exactly have much of a background to look back on. According to the school's official website, there are five total blog posts regarding the football team dating to April 2021, but there hasn't been one since May 21. If the school is about to begin the football season, you'd think that there would be some kind of season preview content.
In addition, if you click on the "About Us," and "Staff" sections of the school's website, the sections are absolutely blank. The "Schedule" tab just says that the 2021 schedule is "coming soon."
There was also a GoFundMe page in Bishop Sycamore's name that was set up on Aug. 21, 2021. The description for the GoFundMe page said that Bishop Sycamore is a "new football program getting established in Columbus" and plays "a national schedule which is ranked 4th in the nation." The campaign had raised just $140 of a $20,000 goal, but is no longer accepting donations.
As of Tuesday morning, MaxPreps had Bishop Sycamore scheduled to play several powerhouse programs across the country including DeMatha (Md.), Duncanville, and St. Thomas More (Conn.). Last season, the Centurions went 0-6 and were outscored 227-42.
That highly-competitive schedule has begun to dissipate. USA Today reported Tuesday afternoon that DeMatha canceled its game against Bishop Sycamore. The contest was originally scheduled for Oct. 1 at the Prince George's Sports & Learning Complex in Landover, Maryland.
"We have been doing a lot of researching, and after discussing it with our coaching staff, we have decided to cancel that game with Bishop Sycamore because they have ineligible players and it would be a liability issue," DeMatha Catholic High School president Fr. James R. Day told USA Today "We think this is the right decision."
The scheduling oddities didn't end there. MaxPreps didn't have Bishop Sycamore's game against Sto-Rox, which is a high school in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, from this past Friday on their schedule. According to TribLive, Sto-Rox defeated Bishop Sycamore 19-7, then Bishop Sycamore turned around and played on Sunday against IMG Academy.
Bishop Sycamore's roster is also extremely questionable. For example, quarterback Jailen Knight got the start against IMG Academy and his Twitter account states that he is a three-star prospect in the 2023 class. However, Knight's Hudl page says that he plays for Perry Hall High School in Baltimore. Knight also has a 247Sports recruiting profile that lists him as an unrecruited quarterback who graduated in 2021. Meanwhile, quarterback Trillian Harris is listed on Hudl as a senior quarterback from Bishop Sycamore. However, Harris' 247Sports profile lists him as a California quarterback in the 2021 class who wasn't recruited.
Whether Bishop Sycamore is a legitimate program or not, it was downright dangerous for a team that plays on Friday to then turn around and play Sunday against a team such as IMG Academy, which is loaded with some of the top players in the entire country.