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HHF/GID Interview with Gibson Southern Head Coach Nick Hart


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Guest DT

Purdue bound senior quarterback Brady Allen and 8 returning defensive starters give Coach Hart great optimism that 2021 may be the year for his program to go all the way to a 3A state championship

 

 

Thank you Coach Hart for visiting with us at Hoosier High School Football and The Gridiron Digest

 
Question 1
Our readers would surely like to learn more about your background.  Tell us a little about your playing career, and when , and why did you decide to pursue coaching?
 
 
Question 2 :
You had immediate success when you took over at GS, making semi state in your 2nd season.  You've been able to maintain that high level of success through 9 seasons now.  What have been the keys towards building and maintaining a championship level program at Gibson Southern, and where do you see Titan Football  from an overall perspective heading into Year 10?
 
 
Question 4 :
You have had the pleasure of coaching one of Indiana's all time elite high school quarterbacks, Brady Allen, for 4 years now.  How do you assess his progress as he enters his last season before heading off to Purdue, and how has his presence changed your program relative to your basic approach and offensive philosophy?
 
 
 
Question 5
You have a solid staff.  How has your staff evolved over the years and helped propel GS to its lofty position in the south, and how have they helped you to build and maintain a successful feeder program?
 
 
Question 6
Southern Indiana football went through some conference realignment recently and the schools in the SIAC and the PAC are now settling in and getting used to their new schedules.  Are you pleased with the results of the realignment, did GS land where it hoped it would, and do you feel that your program is in a position to be adequately challenged during the regular season to help you to continue to press forward for more playoff success?
 
 
 
Question 7
Clearly you have put some heavy focus on non conference scheduling.  Last year you opened up with 6A Columbus North and 5A Whiteland, two very solid football schools.  This year, you will have an opportunity to avenge that loss to CN last year, and then you have scheduled a very athletic 5A program in New Albany.  With the SIAC closed off due to its full round robin schedule, your options clearly are limited.  Will you continue to reach out to bigger schools, and based on the initial experience, is it the best way to prepare your team for conference play and beyond?
 
 
Question 8
Your teams have run into some rugged competition in the postseason, which is a testament to the overall strength of lower class football in Indiana.  Expectations are always skyhigh for your teams due to the great success you have enjoyed.  Given the great talent you have at the skill positions, is 2021 your best opportunity yet to advance all the way and bring a state championship home to your fans in Gibson County?
 
 
Question 9
Who are some of your top line kids who will be supporting Allen offensively this season, and who are your key Friday night difference makers on the defensive side of the ball?
 
Question 10:
What are your thoughts on the Success Factor?  Do you feel that it has achieved its goal of helping to maintain competitive balance across all classes of high school football in Indiana?  
 
 
Question 11
Do you like the current post season tournament setup or would you like to see some changes or adjustments?
 
 
Question 12
Your name comes up every time a big time 5A or 6A coaching opportunity opens up in The MIC or The HCC.  You've had a great run at GS and obviously a state championship would be the icing on the cake.  Are you committed to staying in Southern Indiana, or would you consider opportunities elsewhere if the timing and the program presented the right opportunity for both you and your family?
 
 
 
 
 
 

Hoosier High School Football

Responses

1.       I played at Evansville Reitz in the early 2000s.  Went to Kentucky Wesleyan to play and had a shoulder injury and decided it was time to start my coaching career.  I knew at a young age that I wanted to coach.  I was fortunate to grow up around the game and fell in love with it very early. 

 

 

2.      Our first year here we really got the program jump started with that semi-state run.  I really believe that success breeds success in a program and an athletic department.  That 2012 team is one I’ll forever hold dear to my heart.  They bought in to what we were doing and helped lay the groundwork for our program.  Heading into year 10 I think that our program is in great shape.  We have a strong high school group and are really excited about some of our younger groups that will eventually be coming up through.  We have an amazing feeder system and I can’t say enough good things about our guys that have run our feeder program throughout the years.

 

 

4.      I think that everyone throughout the state knows how great of a talent Brady is.  What a lot of people don’t know is that he is a better person.  That part has been the greatest joy to me, he is just an absolute pleasure to be around.  When you get Big Ten offers as a freshman there becomes an enormous amount of pressure on you.  He has handled that better than anyone could even imagine.  On the field, he has made tremendous progress.  He understands the game so well and what we are trying to do and attack.  We have changed some offensively.  Statistically we throw it a lot more than we did in the past.  But, we ask him to  make some throws that you can only ask very few high school kids to make.

 

 

5.      Our staff is phenomenal.  We’ve had some turnover which is going to happen, but we have been able to keep a nice core together.  Brian Snow, Trevor West, Daren Harmon, and Cary Maurer have been here all 10 years.  Our strength and conditioning coach was a former D1 strength coach at the University of Evansville.  We’ve got some great young coaches that played here for us and are back as coaches now.  In the past couple of years we have been able to add some guys that have a ton of coaching experience to the defensive side of the ball that has really helped make us better.

 

 

6.      I’m very happy with how things shook out.  The PAC is a great football conference.  Our enrollment continues to grow and adding some other schools and allowing our conference to split big and small was something I think really helped us.  With that split we were also able to add more non conference games so we can go out and schedule the way we want to.

 

 

7.      We want to challenge ourselves as much as possible in the non-conference schedule.  Columbus North is a heck of a challenge for us, New Albany is really senior loaded this year and going to be really good, we play South Warren out of Kentucky week 4 and they will be at the very least a top 5 5A team in Kentucky this season.  We will learn a lot about ourselves in the first 4 weeks of the season before we jump into conference play.  Those 3 teams are going to be as good as if not better than anyone we will play in the tournament so I think that is a great prep for us.  In 2022 Terre Haute South will take Columbus North’s spot on our schedule.  We will always try and go out and play teams we think will make us better for conference and tournament play.  As you mentioned with the SIAC being closed we are going to have to continue to look to the Indy area our out of state to find some of those games.  I think even looking from week to week last year how much better we got from the Columbus North game to the Whiteland game was a great improvement.

 

 

8.   3A is an absolute bear.  I think even just looking at our sectional the past 5 years with Memorial, Heritage Hills, and Southridge.  All of those teams went on big runs where we lost close games to them in the sectional.  In 6 of our 9 years here we have been eliminated by the team that has represented the south on Thanksgiving weekend.  We have been close, but haven’t been able to get there yet.  In 2015 we had a great shot and lost a very close game to Chatard in a snowstorm in the semi-state.  That group was really special.  This team has that type of opportunity I think, but we have a long way to go to be that good.

 

 

9.       The first kid to talk about is Rory Heltsley.  Rory is a tremendous WR for us.  He holds an offer from Air Force and with all due respect to some of these programs I think that the MAC and FCS schools in the Midwest are really missing out.  We have 3 returning starters on the offensive line.  Our receiving core has had a heck of a summer so far and I’m really excited about what our backs have been doing this summer.  We’ve got to do a better job of running the football this year.  That starts with me and how we approach it.  We saw so many light boxes last year to try and not let Brady have easy throws, if teams want to do that this year we have to be more efficient in the running game starting with me.  Our offense is going to get all of the headlines heading into the season but I’m so excited about our defense.  I think this has a chance to be one of the better defensive units we have put on the field in my time here.  We return all 4 DBs, 2 of which were all conference last year.  We have 2 returning starting LBers.  So 6 out of our back 7 are returning starters.  We have a returning all conference DE in Ben Luttrell.  We have to continue to get better up front at the other spots and I really think we can be elite on that side of the football.

 

 

10.      I think that the success factor has accomplished what it was set out to.  I do struggle with it some.  Jumping out of football for a second we have a great girls softball program here and we have been up in 4A for quite some time.  No guarantees certainly, but I think they would have had some chances the past few years to make some great runs.  Those girls didn’t have that opportunity because of the program having success while they are in middle school. 

 

 

11.   I’m a rather big supporter of some type of seeding.  I’d like to see us seed it north/south or at least regionals so if you have two powers in the same sectional they could both make it out.  The way our tourney is currently set up you play all of the same teams over and over again.  In 9 years it seems we have played Heritage Hills 44 times.  Would be fun to play some new programs.  However, that is somewhat of a pipe dream.  I would at least like to see the sectionals seeded and at the very least the top 2 teams in the sectional seeded.  Every tournament in America is seeded and I would like to see us join that party.  Imagine and NFL playoffs where the Bucs and Chiefs met in the first round and the Lions and Bengals played in the first round.  I think one thing about our system that doesn’t get talked about very much is the fact that you are only promised 10 football games.  Getting to 11 or 12 is a big deal for your kids and especially your seniors.  Baseball plays like 28 games, I’m not sure if 29 or 30 makes a big deal but I certainly think it does in our sport.

12. I think that bigger does not always mean better.  I have a great situation here.  Our community is unbelievable and shows a tremendous amount of support for our program.  Our administration is the best I’ve ever been around.  Dr. Humbaugh our superintendent is supportive of every program we have.  Jon Adams has been the athletic director for my first 9 years and was phenomenal in that role.  He is now our principal.  In the past month I was named the athletic director here.  That is a role that I always thought I would be good at and enjoy.  I’m very excited to step into that role this school year.  It is always something I’ve always wanted to do.  The guys on my staff are some of my best friends in the entire world.  My soon to be 3 year old gets treated like a rockstar by our players and community.  Everytime we play football in the backyard or the living room he has to let me know he’s the Titans.  This is a really special place and it is a really special place to us as a family.
 
Thanks Coach Hart, and best of luck to you and your team in the upcoming season.
 
Tim Phillips
Hoosier High School Football

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This honestly might be the best interview with Coach Hart anyone has had in the past 10 years lol

 

newspapers, tv, and radio tend to only put little snippets but you asked 12 good questions that most others don’t ask ever… and you got good responses in return 

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Guest DT
58 minutes ago, DumfriesYMCA said:

This honestly might be the best interview with Coach Hart anyone has had in the past 10 years lol

 

newspapers, tv, and radio tend to only put little snippets but you asked 12 good questions that most others don’t ask ever… and you got good responses in return 

This is a great time of year to visit with the coaches.  They are very relaxed.  Many are vacationing.  And of course they love talking about  their teams and their programs.  

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3 hours ago, DumfriesYMCA said:

newspapers, tv, and radio tend to only put little snippets but you asked 12 good questions that most others don’t ask ever

12 questions?  I want to know the answer to super secret question #3.  It must have been censored. 

7 hours ago, DT said:

 

10.      I think that the success factor has accomplished what it was set out to.  I do struggle with it some.  Jumping out of football for a second we have a great girls softball program here and we have been up in 4A for quite some time.  No guarantees certainly, but I think they would have had some chances the past few years to make some great runs.  Those girls didn’t have that opportunity because of the program having success while they are in middle school. 

 

 

I agree with Coach Hart on this one.  Winning sectional is enough in the minds of the success factor.  Their softball team doesn't get a shot at a deeper run against like-sized competition so other 3A schools get a chance to win. 

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Guest DT
1 hour ago, oldtimeqb said:

12 questions?  I want to know the answer to super secret question #3.  It must have been censored. 

I agree with Coach Hart on this one.  Winning sectional is enough in the minds of the success factor.  Their softball team doesn't get a shot at a deeper run against like-sized competition so other 3A schools get a chance to win. 

How did a school with 550 enrollment get bumped up to the largest class?  Is that possible?  Even with the SF?

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10 hours ago, DT said:

How did a school with 550 enrollment get bumped up to the largest class?  Is that possible?  Even with the SF?

This is a function of only having four classes.  Same with basketball.

If you look at softball classifcations, 4A has enrollments from Carmel/Warren Central size down to ~1100. 

3A is 1100 to 509.  

I would guess there are some smaller schools that don't play football who are 1A softball, so our perception of school size is skewed.

GS is a small 3A school (almost 2A) that was successful.

 

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15 hours ago, oldtimeqb said:

I agree with Coach Hart on this one.  Winning sectional is enough in the minds of the success factor.  Their softball team doesn't get a shot at a deeper run against like-sized competition so other 3A schools get a chance to win. 

You could also say the Success Factor gives their football team a chance to win because other like-sized 3A schools have been bumped up to 4A.  The Success Factor giveth and taketh away....

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2 hours ago, tango said:

 

You could also say the Success Factor gives their football team a chance to win because other like-sized 3A schools have been bumped up to 4A.  The Success Factor giveth and taketh away....

You could, but it wouldn't be accurate.

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23 hours ago, DT said:

How did a school with 550 enrollment get bumped up to the largest class?  Is that possible?  Even with the SF?

Are you asking about Gibson Southern? They have 703 students when they did the count for the 2019-2020 Iand 2020-2021 HSAA enrollment and classification. In the IHSAA school directory they list 698 students.  

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I know it doesn’t help the argument here….but Gibson Southerns softball team has done pretty well in 4A and can contend with the best of them 

 

they made it to semi state twice.

defeated center grove 4-1

lost to brownsburg 1-0

lost to Avon 2-0

 

sure those teams probably could have won the 3A titles those years…but competitively speaking they are good enough to win the 4A title…..shoot if they made softball 5 classes, they might have won the 4A title in 2017/2018 and we would be talking about how they are in 5A and barely losing to the MIC and other indy schools 

 

I know it doesn’t help the argument but we can’t only like the success factor when it takes good teams away from our schools classification lol.

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39 minutes ago, DumfriesYMCA said:

I know it doesn’t help the argument but we can’t only like the success factor when it takes good teams away from our schools classification lol.

Bingo

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On 7/5/2021 at 6:57 PM, oldtimeqb said:

12 questions?  I want to know the answer to super secret question #3.  It must have been censored. 

I agree with Coach Hart on this one.  Winning sectional is enough in the minds of the success factor.  Their softball team doesn't get a shot at a deeper run against like-sized competition so other 3A schools get a chance to win. 

Keep in mind Softball has that success at a school in a corn field (3 DGs, one Dairy Queen, one Subway).  Kids go there for free and even with very low F&A numbers compared to a lot of publics...there are a considerable amount of kids there who participate in nothing and who are probably only there because the law says they have to be.  So comparatively speaking the "effective extra curricular enrollment" is much lower than the actual enrollment.  Success factor isn't perfect (and clearly needs tweaked), but an enrollment only based system with no guardrails is much much worse.  That said, SF when there is only 4 classes stings quire a bit more I think.  And don't worry my Blue and White friends, at the present growth rate GS will be 4A in 3 years or so in football and probably some more fast food on HWY 41.

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On 7/7/2021 at 8:33 AM, Titan32 said:

And don't worry my Blue and White friends, at the present growth rate GS will be 4A in 3 years or so in football 

It would be good to have that post-season rivalry again.  

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