By Cody Wilcox
Gilman graduate and Los Angeles Rams linebacker Micah Kiser doesn't agree with the decisions made by Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference schools to not play St. Frances Academy in the 2018 season.
"I was kind of disappointed. I don't really buy the safety thing," Kiser said on
Glenn Clark Radio
Aug. 9. "I think when you play in the MIAA, you want to play the best. You want to play the best because a lot of those guys want to go on to play college."
St. Frances is led by co-head coach Biff Poggi, who coached Kiser at Gilman. Kiser, who was drafted out of the University of Virginia by the Rams during the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft, believes that the schools' decisions to not play St. Frances will hurt the student-athletes rather than help them.
"It's an opportunity to get really good film against really good players," Kiser said. "If you go out and ball out -- let's say you're playing for Loyola [Blakefield] and you have a really good game plan against St. Frances, it's going to speak volumes for your film moving forward and what you can do in college."
"I just think it's hurting kids from opportunities that they could have," Kiser said.
Earlier this year, officials from Mount Saint Joseph, Calvert Hall, McDonogh and Archbishop Spalding announced they wouldn't play St. Frances High School during the 2018 season due to safety precautions, stating that they are overwhelmed by St. Frances' size, skill and athletic ability.
The MIAA announced this month that the 2018 MIAA A Conference championship would be awarded to St. Frances and no teams would have to forfeit. That led to the Panthers' third straight championship.
Kiser disagreed with the schools' reasoning for not playing St. Frances. He cited his time with Gilman as an example.
"When you look at some of the Gilman teams I played on -- yeah, we had some good players -- but also had years where … we had guys that were barely 200 pounds playing offensive line, and we were going up against national powers every single year," Kiser said. "I don't think [the decisions to withdraw] had anything to do with size."
Poggi took the helm of the St. Frances football team in 2017 after 19 years as the head coach of Gilman High School (135-43) and one year as a special assistant at the University of Michigan under head coach Jim Harbaugh. Poggi immediately re-established himself in the high school football domain as St. Frances became finished the 2017 season ranked No. 3 nationally in one USA Today poll.
During his tenure at St. Frances, Poggi has been criticized for his out-of-state recruiting that has given his teams an advantage, but Poggi has made it clear that he cares about his players and their future past football. Poggi has donated $2.5 million of his own money to his program that has helped players receive scholarships from schools such as Alabama and Mississippi State, according to ESPN.
Poggi's caring personality and kindness is familiar to Kiser, who said Poggi loved the Gilman program and treated every player as his own son.
"He used to describe Gilman football as Harvard academics and Alabama football," Kiser said. "Coach Poggi valued every single person in the Gilman football program, from top to bottom. He wanted every single person to feel valued and part of the team."
For more from Kiser, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Virginia Athletics