Well, in a bit of unexpected news, but news about which we were pleased to hear, Kentucky Prep Gridiron has been notified that three of our AFI-KPG Freshman All-State Football players have been nominated for the MaxPreps, Freshman, All-American Football Team. We have been additionally notified that the team will be announced sometime around the first two weeks of January, 2018. The three freshmen All-Staters who have been nominated are the following together with information we have before related about the three on our site:
Austin Gough, 6’1” 215, Owensboro Senior High School
Austin has really developed in the weight room, as he is presently bench pressing over 275 and back squatting in the neighborhood of 400 pounds. Austin’s speed, power, strength, explosion, agility, athleticism, and quickness this season appeared to many to be Beowulfian. Something you have difficulty measuring, though, but which showed in Austin’s play, this season, was his Football IQ. Very few freshmen have any, at all, but that was something we saw in Austin’s play this year for Owensboro Senior High. Austin has been hand timed in the 40 between 4.7 and 4.8, performed as a triple-jumper in Track & Field, together with being the Turbo-javelin State Champion, and was a standout in basketball and baseball. For the Red Devils defense this year, Austin led Owensboro with 82 tackles, 58 of which were solo, which led the entire Owensboro defense. Gough not only registered numbers like that but he did it at one of Kentucky’s winningest, all-time, football programs. Gough was widely considered Kentucky’s best linebacker in his Class for his play, this past season, and made the Aspirations Fitness Institutions/Kentucky Prep Gridiron (AFI-KPG) Freshman All-State Football Team as a linebacker. The AFI-KPG Freshman and Sophomore All-State Football teams are the only official All-State Football teams for the Freshman or Sophomore classes. Austin’s play, as a freshman this year, surely showed why Austin was selected to play in last year’s All-American game. He played like an All-American. Austin’s freshman highlights: http://www.hudl.com/v/2880bY
William L. Long, II, 5’10” 240 Hopkinsville High School
When William Long, last year’s JJ Watt Award recipient, was being discussed for inclusion on the AFI-KPG Freshman All-State Team, the committee heard a story which seemed to sum up the William we all saw at last year’s event. With HHS playing Franklin-Simpson in Franklin, Kentucky in the Regional Championship (State Quarter-finals) game this year, All-State QB, Jay Bland play faked to the dive, rolled to his right and found a streaking Gavin Marshand over the middle of the field for a TD, the first of the game. What no one other than probably football coaches noticed is the freshman LG, William Long, pulled play side and engaged a backer coming up to get in Bland’s face in the open field. Long covered up the LB, and the pressure never arrived, leaving Bland free to find his open receiver. After the game, my son William said, Dad, I could have pancaked that kid but I didn’t because I knew the play would score and I didn’t want to give the official any reason to flag me and cost us a TD. To a selection committee full of football coaches and enthusiasts, it was both impressive and why William Long may have been considered, by the committee (I was told), the very best interior Offensive Lineman in Kentucky’s 2021 Class this past season. I am also informed it didn’t hurt William’s candidacy that he is, both widely and generally, regarded the strongest and one of the quickest kids at the position in Kentucky’s 2021 class. Long bench presses over 3 plates, or 325 pounds, though just a freshman (video link of the lift: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=559732204363147&id=100009791163875)and back squats nearly 450 pounds. He is a kid who blocks multiple levels in the run game and is accomplished at both pass protection and picking up stunts and blitzes. William called the O-Line run blocking assignments and pass protections for Hopkinsville High School all year and logged a whopping 49 quarters of Varsity football as a freshman. In weekly film study, Long consistently graded out toward the top of the Tiger offensive line. William played so well this year that most opposing coaches and news outlets covering the games didn’t realize No. 50 was only a freshman. In an article published on this site on September 14, 2017, William’s position coach at HHS and a member of the Bret Cooper East All-American coaching staff at last year’s event, Jacob Ezell, said William Long is very rare. I’m proud to be his position coach… and a faculty member at HHS, himself having formerly coached offensive line, and having been on the faculty at HHS for ten or more years, related that William Long is the best freshman lineman I have seen since coming to Hopkinsville High School. William, like Austin, used his Bret Cooper experience to catapult into one fine freshman season. William’s freshman season highlights: http://www.hudl.com/video/3/8054289/5a1b1b1f15f6331130abd9eb
Justice Thompson, 6’0” 225, Louisville Ballard High School
I first wrote about Justice Thompson on April 2, 2017 in an article entitled Justice Thompson Lays Down the Law. In that article, I said that Justice would probably log significant PT for Ballard next year as a freshman if he doesn’t start. Emphasis Added. Well, he started all year long. Justice logged 120 tackles, this year, as Louisville Ballard’s top tackler, with 69 of the tackles being solo. For the record, having stood eye ball to eye ball with Justice on numerous occasions, I believe him to be both taller and heavier than Ballard lists him on their roster. Without anything else on which to go, I guess we will stick with the listed 6’0″ 225, but I would be willing to wager 6’1″ 235 is probably more accurate. Regardless, Justice is just a monster. Justice started at the Mike (MLB) for Louisville Ballard High School. The Bears compete in Kentucky’s highest classification of football, 6A, and count Louisville Male and Trinity as teams it consistently plays. Prior to his stellar Freshman year at Ballard, Justice anchored the Kentucky FBU team which traveled to Naples, FA and finished 6th in the FBU National Championship Tournament. Afterward, he came home to Kentucky and took over the defensive side of the ball in the Tennessee-Kentucky Future Stars Classic, culminating in his being selected the Defensive MVP. His HC at Future Stars was his Defensive Coordinator at Ballard this season, LaKunta Farmer. Farmer had this to say about his freshman, 6A, starter in the middle…Justice will be one of the best LB’s I’ve coached before he graduates. He is very strong and knowledgeable on the field. Uses great technique and fundamentals on every play. The thing that sets him apart from others is his natural instinct to find the ball carrier and bring him down. I was able to share with the committee that I have enjoyed the benefit of watching Thompson play, both live and on film, and have been most impressed with his incredible speed, agility, and explosion as defining athletic attributes. There is a running argument about whom is the best freshman linebacker in Kentucky and most believe it is either Justice Thompson or, our next player featured, Austin Gough. The argument is akin to the old Magic Johnson/Larry Bird debate. In the end, who cares? They are both incredible. Justice is not quite as fast as Gough but he has been consistently timed in the 4.9s in the 40, which is really fast for his size and at his age. I don’t know what his strength numbers are but the way he passes the eye-ball test, they have to be considerable. I can tell you there just can’t be a stronger or more explosive freshman Linebacker in Kentucky than Austin Gough but we also didn’t see a freshman linebacker, especially in Class 6A, who rivaled Justice’s production. There wasn’t a question from anyone on the selection committee that Gough and Justice both were going to be included on this team as linebackers.
This is certainly exciting news and should any of our Sophomores be nominated I will certainly follow up and relate the same upon being so notified. Congratulations to Austin Gough, William Long, and Justice Thompson from your friends at both the American Fitness Institution and Kentucky Prep Gridiron.