Coach Rush Propst of the Prep Force National Champions Colquitt County Packers had a press conference today where he talked about his current team, what’s in store, and most interestingly his thoughts on the national high school football landscape. Propst gave some details about the end of season game that was to be set up by Paragon Marketing Group. He led off the call by saying that the season is over and that there were talks of them playing Bishop Gorman in the game but the NIAA did not allow Bishop Gorman to play the game. After that plan was shot down there were talks that the Packers could play IMG Academy, but ultimately Paragon could not secure a title sponsor so the game was shelved.
Propst then laid out a detailed plan for a future true High School National Championship that would consist of the top 4 teams in the country. These 4 teams would be chosen by the 6 national football polls (Prep Force, USA Today, Max Preps, Prep Nation, High School Football America, NationalHSFootball) along with 8 retired coaches who continue to watch games. He would then have the #1 vs #2 team play and the #3 vs #4 team play. In his plan it would be a one day event. He recognizes the costs that come with the one day event would be a hindrance. He acknowledged that if the money can only be raised for a one game title then so be it, but his goal is for the top 4 teams to play. In his eyes those 4 teams this year would have been Colquitt County, Katy, Bishop Gorman and De La Salle. Those are the same top 4 teams we had in the Prep Force final rankings.
Propst realizes there are a lot of hurdles to clear to get a uniform playoff in place. The most obvious being money. With one of the biggest hurdles being state athletic associations, he mentioned how some are now allowing more high school basketball teams travel to national tournaments in exchange for five figure payouts. He feels if a marketing group such as Paragon could secure a million dollars that everything else would fall into place. He feels that if someone starts organizing his proposal today that in the next year or two at the latest there could be enough structure and money in place to get this done. He plans to start that momentum at the Nike Summit where he will sit down with other high profile high school football coaches to lay out his plan. He think the kids, coaches and fan bases want it and it could continue the explosion of interest in high school football. His proposed date for his playoff games is the Saturday that is currently the start of the college bowl season and feels if ESPN replaced two of the lower bowl games that day the high school games would draw higher ratings than those college games. Based on some of the teams from this year we agree.
Propst then turned the focus on the season his Packers just completed. He hasn’t slept much the past few days since being named National Champion in 2 of the national polls. “This is my greatest accomplishment as a high school football coach,” Propst said about winning the National Title. “Winning these back to back Georgia titles is as impressive as the four in a row I won at Hoover. Winning 30 games is back to back years in Georgia is a hell of an accomplishment.” He brought up how the high school football landscape in Georgia has greatly improved over the past 7-8 years, and he is right. “There used to be about 3 good teams in the whole state now there are 15 every year. This years bracket was the toughest I have ever seen and on any given night 8 different teams could have won the title this year, but our experience from our title run last year paid off”. When asked why he thought Colquitt County was the best team in the country Propst said “Do I think we’re the best team in America today? Yes I do. I think we proved it on the field. If you do the math we are 1 or 2 in all 6 polls. No one else can claim that.” He brought up how Katy jumped over them in a few of the polls and he thinks them ending their season a week later played a big part in that. “If we would have played that last game versus IMG I don’t think those polls would have had Katy jump us.” You could tell on the call that he really wanted to play that extra game versus either Bishop Gorman or IMG to prove that the Packers were the best team in the country.
Colquitt County will have another tough schedule next year as Propst emphasized the importance of out of state games. He repeatedly commended Bishop Gorman for their out of state schedule while bringing attention to Katy not playing any out of state games this year. “Its hard for me to recognize a National Title team that does not play an out of state game.” We feel the same way here at Prep Force. In talking about the 2016 schedule for the Packers “We want to play on the ESPN kickoff weekend and we will play whoever, wherever.” He said the early talks have them playing IMG Academy in that game, but nothing is set in stone. He also thinks they will play another national TV game, but he is not sure when or who that game might be against. The cost of those out of state trips was brought up and he mentioned a rough cost of about $55000 for each. He noted the importance of a home and home or a split in those game to make them feasible for teams. On an interesting note he commented that while he was at Hoover the sports budget was $1.5 million.
It’s clear that Propst understands the importance of making high school football a more interstate and not intrastate sport if it truly wants to keep gaining in popularity. We at Prep Force fully endorse his idea for a true National High School Championship and we think with a titan like him leading the charge that it can be done. We are not sure if Paragon will continue their efforts or if another marketing group will step up to the plate, but we feel confident that with organization and effort it will be done. It’s the next natural step in the progression of the popularity of high school football and we cannot wait until the day that it is a reality.