Saturday, February 26, 2011

National High School Football Powers De La Salle and St. Thomas Aquinas to Square-off in September

by Jeff Fisher
High School Football America

They've been two of the best high school football programs in their respective states for a long De La Salle (Concord, CA) and St. Thomas Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) will square-off on the field for bragging rights.  And, ESPN will be there to capture the action and give a national audience a look at the California/Florida bragging rights battle.

ESPN officials have announced they will televise the September 23rd match-up live on one of their networks.  Last year STA won Florida's 5A championship; De La Salle, which is riding a 25-game win streak, won California's Open Division title.

Of course that 25-game win streak doesn't hold a candle to the Spartans' national record 151-game win streak that was set between 1992-2003.

Maybe the only disappointment about the game is that long-time Raider head coach George Smith won't be guiding his team.  Smith announced earlier this year that he had decided to retire.  If the legendary Smith, who led Aquinas to six state titles, hadn't stepped-down, the game would have matched two of high school football's best.  De La Salle's Bob Ladouceur owns a 372-23-3 record since he took over in Concord in 1979.

"Playing a great program like St. Thomas Aquinas is a positive opportunity. Win or lose, they'll make us a better team. It should be an exciting game," said Ladouceur in a news release.

Former defensive coordinator Rocco Casullo will take over for Smith, but it was the former coach who spoke about the match-up in the ESPN news release saying "To have the chance to play a program like De La Salle is a great challenge for our program and to us a great thing for high school football in both states. It should be an outstanding game for both schools, both states and fans of high school football nationwide."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Before They Were Pros

Jeff Fisher
High School Football America

As Founder/Editor-in-Chief of High School Football America, I love finding diamond-in-the-rough type of stories.

Today, I'm happy to tell my readers about a partnership I've developed over the last couple of months with Stu Ross of Ross Productions outside of Philadelphia. Stu and his team have THE BEST library of NFL players when they were "diamonds-the-rough" playing high school football.

Ever wonder what Tom Brady looked like before he became a legendary Super Bowl quarterback?  How about LaDainian Tomlinson?

Wonder no more!

Just go to Ross' website Before They Were Pros at  The website has videos from over 300 NFL players in their high school uniforms between 1994-2005.

Here's a sneak peak...below is a clip of Brady during his time at Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, California.

The other great thing about Ross' library is it may contain video of you in high school!!

That's right, Ross Productions has a separate website that has over 30,000 videos that may involve you as a player between 1994-2005.  These videos are available for purchase.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

NFHS Approves Rule Changes on Chop Block

by Jeff Fisher
High School Football America

National Federal of High School Association is re-defining the definition of a "chop block" for the 2011 season.

The modification of the chop block was one of 11 rules changes made at the NFHS Football Rules Committee meeting in Indianapolis.

The new language in Rule 2-3-8 defines a chop block as “a combination block by two or more teammates against an opponent other than the runner, with or without delay, where one of the blocks is low (at the knee or below) and one of the blocks is high (above the knee).”

Previous language defined a chop block as “a delayed block at the knees or below against an opponent who is in contact with a teammate of the blocker in the free-blocking zone.”

In a NFHS news release on the subject, Bob Colgate, NFHS assistant director and liaison to the Football Rules Committee, said that any combination block where one block is high (above the knee) and one block is low (at or below the knee) will constitute a chop block – with or without delay between the blocks. He also noted that a low-low combination block is no longer a chop block.

In other rules changes from the NFHS news release, the committee standardized the rules regarding the replacement of apparently injured players, players who exhibit concussion signs and symptoms, and players who are bleeding or have blood on their body or uniform. Players removed in any of these situations must leave the game for at least one down, and the time-out is an officials’ time-out, not one charged to the team.

The rules committee also defined two types of authorized team conferences – the “Outside Nine-yard Mark Conference” and the “Between Nine-yard Mark Conference.” When an injury occurs and the referee grants an authorized conference, it must be an “Outside Nine-yard Mark Conference.”

Colgate said this will provide medical personnel time and space to address the injured player.
Three changes were approved in Rule 1 – The Game, Field, Players and Equipment. In Rule 1-1-8, language was added to note that “game officials maintain administrative responsibilities for the contest through the completion of any required reports or correspondence in response to any action occurring while the officials have jurisdiction.” The revised rule further notes that “state associations may intercede in the event of unusual incidents after the officials have signaled the end of the game or in the event a game is terminated prior to the conclusion of regulation play.”

In Rule 1-5-1, the detailed specifications for thigh guards were deleted because they were not necessarily applicable to newer technologies used in current production. The requirements for wearing thigh guards and that the guards be unaltered from the manufacturer’s original design/production remain part of the rule.

Restrictions on eye shade were added to Rule 1-5-3c. If used, eye shade must be applied using a single solid stroke under each eye.

“The committee’s intent was that eye shade be located below and within the width of the eye socket and not extend below the cheekbone,” Colgate said. “No words, numbers, logos or other symbols of any type may be included within the eye shade.”

Four changes were approved by the committee in Rule 9 – Conduct of Players and Others. Those revisions include the following:

- All horse-collar fouls being treated as live-ball fouls.
- Roughing-the-passer penalties being enforced from the dead-ball spot when there is no change of team possession and the dead-ball spot is beyond the line of scrimmage.
-The illegal participation rule including a player who intentionally goes out of bounds and, while out of bounds, affects the play, touches the ball or otherwise participates.
-Establishing an unsportsmanlike foul against the head coach for failure to adhere to the limits on squad members being on the field of play during the coin toss.

A final change was made regarding running clock/mercy rules in nine-, eight- and six-player rules.

St. Thomas Aquinas Legendary Coach Steps Down

by Jeff Fisher
High School Football America

The man who built St. Thomas Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale) into a Florida and national high school football power is stepping down after 34 years of coaching.

George Smith's number are mind boggling...a career record of 361-66 for an incredible winning percentage of .845, six state championships and two "mythical" national championships.  Then there are the hundred of kids he sent into the college ranks, plus 30 former players who made it to the NFL.

The school has announced that defensive coordinator Rocco Casullo is the Raiders new head coach.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Commentary: Turn Down the Hype on Clowney!

by Jeff Fisher
High School Football America

Jadeveon Clowney, who was considered America's #1 high school football recruit, announced today going to play his college ball at South Carolina.

There was plenty of hoopla with ESPN airing the decision live.  It also came on the heels of a story over the weekend in the NY Times.

This is the commentary I did on my on the NHSCA Sports Hour radio show and my blog at High School Football America on Sunday.

Turn Down the Hype!

You know I’ve been on this soapbox before.
What soapbox? 
The one where I preach that ESPN and others HAVE to stop covering high school sports with the same parameters as pro sports. 
My soapbox preaching began in 2007 with commentary piece on ESPN’s made-for-TV interstate high school football match-ups.  Made-for-TV high school basketball games are really out of control, but for now, I’ll keep my rant to football.
What put me back on the soapbox? 
It was an article in the NY Times by writers Mark Viera and Pete Thamel on Jadeveon Clowney of South Point High School in Rock Hill, South Carolina, who is considered the #1 college prospect in America.  It centers on Clowney’s expected decision on Monday, his birthday and Valentine’s Day, on where he’ll play his college football.
Now, it probably doesn’t seem like that topic should have me seeing red on the day before V-Day.  However, by the time of the second paragraph, I was boiling!
The NY Times article states that “two people with knowledge of Clowney’s classroom performance at South Pointe in Rock Hill, S.C., have raised questions about whether Clowney will be able to meet the NCAA minimum academic standard if he wants to play next season.”
That of course will be interesting news to Alabama, Clemson and South Carolina, who Clowney says are the finalists for his talents.
Whether Clowney academically qualifies or not, isn’t what has me mad.  I DO NOT know Clowney’s academic record, but my guess is, there’s a decent amount of truth to the Times’ article. 
What I want to focus on is this…is Clowney, who has been rumored to have questionable academics, being helped by missing school because ESPN comes calling for a cover shoot for ESPN The Magazine or a live hit in the middle of its 10-hour national signing day special on ESPNU?
I think the answer is NO!
Then there’s the other question of what’s the message being sent to other high school student-athletes when it comes to academics?  Meaning, are studies not that important, if you can get the cover of a national magazine?
ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit was spot-on when he said in the middle of ESPNU’s signing day coverage that he was concerned about these high school players showboating on the air by putting on hats from the school they chose. 
What seems to be lost during this so-called signing day event, is that the players will have a tremendous opportunity to get an awesome education as the result of the academic scholarship they’re being given. 
Yes, when the dream of NFL goes bye-bye, that degree will mean a lot.
Having worked as a sports journalist for over 35 years, I understand ESPN’s business plan when it comes to being the Worldwide Leader in Sports.  It makes total sense in ESPN’s business plan to create a storyline that goes from the NFL to college to high school.   However, when the lineage starts at the high school level and goes the other way, I believe it creates problems that won’t be able to be reversed.
As I’ve always said…student is ALWAYS the first part in the term student-athlete. 

Sunday, February 06, 2011

2011 Parade All-America Football Team

by Jeff Fisher
High School Football America

Add caption
The 48th Parade All-America high school football team is out.

This year's team is made-up of 53 seniors from 22 states.  The team was chosen in conjuction with Sporting News.

Last month, Skyline (Sammamish, WA) High's Kasen Williams was chosen as Parade's Player of the Year.

Here's the 2011 All-America Team:


Johnny Manziel, QB - Tivy Kerrville, Tex. 6'1" 195 - Texas A&M
Mike Bellamy, RB - Charlotte Punta Gorda, Fla. 5'11" 180 - Clemson
Malcolm Brown, RB - Steele Cibolo, Tex. 6'1" 220 - Texas
Dee Hart, RB - Dr. Phillips Orlando, Fla. 5'8" 185 - Alabama
Trey Metoyer, WR - Whitehouse Whitehouse, Tex. 6'2" 200 - Oklahoma
Kasen Williams, WR - Skyline Sammamish, Wash. 6'2" 210 - Washington
Brian Bobek, OL - Fremd Palatine, Ill. 6'2" 285 - Ohio State
La'el Collins, OL - Redemptorist Baton Rouge, La. 6'5" 285 - LSU
Cyrus Hobbi, OL - Saguaro Scottsdale, Ariz. 6'4" 285 - USC
Cyrus Kouandjio, OL - DeMatha Hyattsville, Md. 6'7" 295 - Undecided
Brandon Shell, OL - Goose Creek Goose Creek, S.C. 6'7" 290 - South Carolina
Jabriel Washington, ATH - Trinity Christian Academy Jackson, Tenn. 5'11" 175 - Alabama
Kyle Brindza, K - Plymouth Canton, Mich. 6'2" 215 - Notre Dame


Anthony Johnson, DT - O. Perry Walker New Orleans, La. 6'4" 300 - LSU
Viliami Moala, DT - Grant Union Sacramento, Calif. 6'3" 335 - Cal
Jadeveon Clowney, DE - South Pointe Rock Hill, S.C. 6'6" 250 - Undecided
Ray Drew, DE - Thomas Co. Central Thomasville, Ga. 6'5" 255 - Georgia
Stephone Anthony, LB - Anson Wadesboro, N.C. 6'3" 220 - Clemson
Lamar Dawson, LB - Boyle County Danville, Ky. 6'2" 230 - USC
Curtis Grant, LB - Hermitage Henrico, Va. 6'3" 220 - Ohio State
C.J. Johnson, LB - Philadelphia Philadelphia, Miss. 6'3" 227 - Mississippi
Demetrious Nicholson, DB - Bayside Virginia Beach, Va. 5'10" 170 - Virginia
Brian Randolph, DB - Kell Marietta, Ga. 6'0" 180 - Tennessee
Brandon Swindall, DB - Millwood Oklahoma City, Okla. 6'4" 180 - Undecided
David Glidden, ATH - Mustang Mustang, Okla. 5'8" 160 - Oklahoma State

The Roster

Kiehl Frazier, QB - Shiloh Christian Springdale, Ark. 6'3" 215 - Auburn
Marquise Williams, QB - Mallard Creek Charlotte, N.C. 6'3" 218 - North Carolina
Justin Worley, QB - Northwestern Rock Hill, S.C. 6'4" 200 - Tennessee
Jay Ajayi, RB - Liberty Frisco, Tex. 6'1" 200 - Boise State
Amir Carlisle, RB - The King's Academy Sunnyvale, Calif. 5'11" 185 - USC
Jeremy Hill, RB - Redemptorist Baton Rouge, La. 6'1" 215 - Undecided
Valdez Showers, RB - Madison Madison Heights, Mich. 6'0" 185 - Florida
George Farmer, WR - Junipero Serra Gardena, Calif. 6'2" 190 - USC
Marqise Lee, WR - Junipero Serra Gardena, Calif 6'1" 190 - USC
Chris Moore, WR - Jefferson Tampa, Fla. 6'2" 180 - Cincinnati
Richard Mullaney, WR - Thousand Oaks Thousand Oaks, Calif. 6'3" 190 - Oregon State
Ben Koyack, TE - Oil City Oil City, Pa. 6'5" 235 - Notre Dame
Austin Blythe, OL - Williamsburg Williamsburg, Iowa 6'3" 280 - Iowa
Brey Cook, OL - Har-Ber Springdale, Ark. 6'7" 305 - Arkansas
Reese Dismukes, OL - Spanish Fort Spanish Fort, Ala. 6'3" 290 - Auburn
Todd Barr, DE - Lakewood Lakewood, Calif. 6'3" 250 - Cal
Anthony Chickillo, DE - Alonso Tampa, Fla. 6'3" 235 - Miami
Dillon van der Wal, DE - Oaks Christian Westlake Village, Calif. 6'7" 245 -Undecided
Ishaq Williams, DE - Lincoln Brooklyn, N.Y. 6'6" 240 - Notre Dame
Tim Jernigan, DT - Columbia Lake City, Fla. 6'2" 285 - Florida State
Gabe Wright, DT - Carver Columbus, Ga. 6'3" 290 - Auburn
Serderius Bryant, LB - Seminole Sanford, Fla. 5'10" 210 - Mississippi
Steve Edmond, LB - Daingerfield Daingerfield, Tex. 6'3" 235 - Texas
Ben Kline, LB - Dallastown Dallastown, Pa. 6'3" 225 - Penn State
Lateek Townsend, LB - Marlboro County Bennettsville, S.C. 6'2" 210 - Clemson
Darion Arrington, DB - Stone Wiggins, Miss. 6'2" 200 - Mississippi
Dallas Crawford, DB - South Fort Myers Fort Myers, Fla. 5'10" 185 - Miami
Chris Hackett, DB - John Tyler Tyler, Tex. 6'1" 185 - Texas Christian

Saturday, February 05, 2011

You Can't Play a Super Bowl Without the Big 33 All-Star High School Football Game

by Jeff Fisher
High School Football America

Streaks rule sports.

It starts with winning streaks…losing streaks.

Then there are accomplishment streaks…Joe DiMaggio’s hit streak or Brett Favre and Cal Ripken’s consecutive game streaks.

Today I want to talk about the Big 33 streak.

You don’t know about it?

Well I’m here to tell you on the eve of Super Bowl XV, it’s one of the most amassing high school football streaks that will stand forever.

First a little background on the Big 33 game that is played annually in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

The first Big 33 game was played in 1958.  Through the years, Pennsylvania’s top 33 football players have squared-off with all-star teams from Maryland, Ohio and Texas.  There have been games against an all-USA all-star team, plus sometimes the eastern part of the state battled the western part of the state for bragging rights.

For the past 18-years, the Big 33 has pitted the Keystone State against stars from Ohio.  It’s been a very competitive series with each state winning nine times coming into this year’s game in June.

The names of those who have strapped ‘em up for the game reads like a who’s who of NFL football…Montana, Namath, Dorsett and the list goes on.

And, that gets me to the streak.

When the Packers and Steelers hit the field tomorrow in Dallas, it will mark the 45th straight year that a former Big 33 player will compete in the Super Bowl.

That’s right, there’s never been a Super Bowl without a Big 33 alum!!

It all started with Big 33 alum Herb Adderley of Northeast High School in Philadelphia.  Adderley played in the first two Super Bowls with the Packers.  It continues tomorrow with five former Big 33 players on the turf at Cowboys Stadium. 

Continuing the Big 33 streak tomorrow will be Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and safety Ryan Mundy.  On the other side of the ball, Green Bay has three former Big 33 players…linebacker A.J. Hawk, cornerback Brandon Underwood and linebacker Matt Wilhelm.
Roethlisberger, Hawk, Underwood and Wilhelm are former Ohio Big 33 all-stars, while Mundy is a former Pennsylvania Big 33 all-star.

Will the streak hit 46 next year?  Who knows.

But what we do know, much like DiMaggio, Favre and Ripken’s streak, it’s going to be hard to top the Big 33 streak.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Another NFL Quarterback Becomes a High School Football Coach

by Jeff Fisher
High School Football America

Brooks Bollinger's career as an NFL quarterback over, but his head coaching career is just starting.

Bollinger, who played for the Jets, Vikings, Cowboys and Lions, has been named as the new head football coach at Hill-Murray School in Minnesota. The former Wisconsin Badger, who played his high school football in Grand Forks, North Dakota, takes over for Vince Conway, who retired after 13 years as head coach.

Bollinger is the second former NFL QB to go back to his high school roots.   Gus Frerotte was named head coach at John Burroughs School in St. Louis two weeks ago.

Team USA Beats World in High School Football All-Star Game

by Jeff Fisher
High School Football America

Is the rest of the world catching-up with the United State when it comes to its home-grown game?

If you use Wednesday night's Team USA vs. The World all-star football game won 21-14 by America as the barometer, the answer could be yes.  Of course, you really can't use an all-star football game in February as the measuring stick.

With wind-chill temperatures around 11 degrees, 500 fans braved the cold at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas to watch the Americans take a 2-0 lead in the series.  Last year's inaugural game in Florida was won 17-0 by Team USA.

The Americans took a 21-6 lead in the third quarter behind Texas recruit Joe Bergeron (North Mesquite HS, TX) 13-yard touchdown catch from Stanford-bound quarterback Kevin Hogan (Gonzaga HS, Washington, DC).  Bergeron was named game MVP after rushing for 118 yards on 15 carries.  He also scored on a 56 yard touchdown run on a fake punt.

The World Team still had a shot to send the game to overtime, but a Hail Mary pass from its own 45 on the final play of the game failed to work.

On the positive side for The World, which was made-up of players and coaches from 16 different countries and four continents, the game marked the first time that the USA's 19-and-under squad had surrendered a point in international competition.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Signing on the Dotted Line - 2011 National Letter of Intent Day

by Jeff Fisher
High School Football America

The Blizzard of 2011 has slowed things down here in Chicago, but I'm busy posting the signees from around the country on National Letter of Intent Day.

Click on the links below to keep-up with the signings throughout the day.

If someone is missing from the lists, please email me at


New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
South Dakota
Washington DC
West Virginia

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

National Letter of Intent Signing Day 2011

by Jeff Fisher
High School Football America

It's amazing how high school football's National Letter of Intent Signing Day has grown over the last 16-years.

In 1995 while working as a sports reporter at WFMZ-TV in Allentown, Pennsylvania, I decided to call all of the athletic directors in our coverage area that had players that were signing their letters of intent on the first Wednesday of February.  I asked them to help me set-up a schedule that would allow me and my cameraman to get to as many signings in our large coverage area as possible.

While my request was met with surprise, every school official was happy to oblige.  What was really surprising were the return calls from the school officials asking if they could invite the family and hold the signing ceremonies in-front of the student body.

My answer was a resounding YES!

After traveling over 100 miles in eight hours I sat down to edit what I still consider to be one of my best television features in my career.  I still remember that it was four minutes and 18 seconds in length, which angered the show producer.

It wasn't fancy, it was a straightforward story that captured the celebration of years of hard work by the student-athetes, their families and their schools.

The reaction from the viewers was nothing short of astounding.  Most weren't aware of how the players got their college scholarships.

I'm not saying I was a trailblazer with that 1995 piece, but I do know I was one of the first to cover the signing day to that extent.

Now on the eve of 2011's signing day, sitting in a blizzard in Chicago, I'm asking the question, have we gone too far?

ESPNU will have 10-hours of coverage tomorrow that will feature about seven players making their official announcement on the Worldwide Leader in Sports.  Last month there were were two all-star games that have been built on players making their decision announcements on national television.

It all seems a little bit overblown to me.

It's the same feeling I had back in 1997 when James Mungro of East Stroudsburg High School in Pennsylvania called the local media to his school in the Poconos.  Mungro, who is still Pennsylvania's all-time leading rushers, lined-up five possible helmet choices on the stage in the auditorium before he announced that he was going to Syracuse.

What I remember the most was the pressure that Mungro had on him.  Yes, he was excited to have the "signing event", but you could see in his face and hear in his voice that he was more relieved than happy on that day.

I remember James telling me that it was tough to be constantly asked about what school he was leaning toward.  But, James was a special kid and gave everyone the time.

Times have changed with recruiting news traveling very quickly thanks to the internet and social media.

When I read last week that one of the nation's top recruits, Philadelphia (Mississippi) High's C.J. Johnson closed his Facebook account over unruly comments and slanderous messages, I felt we've gone too far.

If you've been following my work over the last several years, you know I haven't liked the direction the sport is taking as a result of the bright lights from ESPN and the FOX Sports Nets of the world.  I'm all for the promotion of the sport, but I do not feel as though these made-for-TV, national match-ups do anything other than promote someone's Top 100 players list or someone's Top 25/50 Poll.

Of course, that's why I started High School Football America.  I want to bring storytelling back to the sport.  Remember there are over 15,000 football teams and 1.1 million players...not just 50 teams and 300 players.

Now to end on a positive note, tomorrow is a HUGE day for these kids...and not just for football.  These kids are being given an opportunity to get a FREE education.

Of course, I can go off on a tangent here and attack how the NCAA abuses its student-athletes with its current rules that allow all but the athletes to benefit.  However, I'm not going to do that.

What I am going to do is to wish each player and their families heartfelt congratulations, and hope that each student-athlete takes the time to go to class to take advantage of that FREE education.  America is in your hands, and even if you do make it to the NFL, the life expectancy of a pro football player is three-and-a-half years.

In closing, click here to see exactly what that precious piece of paper known as the National Letter of Intent looks like.