Joplin's Tash sets national prep football record

Joplin quarterback Blake Tash delivers a pass to a receiver during the Eagles’ 2019 season opener against Willard at Junge Stadium. Tash's season was one for the record books, as he's been recognized as the most accurate quarterback in high school football history by the National Federation of State High School Associations.Globe file

Joplin senior Blake Tash is officially prep football’s most accurate career passer of all time.

The National Federation of State High School Associations confirmed on Monday that Tash’s career completion percentage of 73.6% from 2017-19 is the new all-time record, surpassing Heritage High School’s Garrett Grayson’s mark of 71.6% set in 2009 in Vancouver, Washington.

“It is super special to me just to realize that all of the hard work I put in, and my teammates put in, over the years really paid off,” Tash said. “Ever since I was in third grade and started playing tackle football, I wanted to be the best at my position, and that has always been a goal for me. Coming away with this record is really special.”

Tash earned the starting role at quarterback for the Eagles his sophomore season in 2017, something he was not expecting.

“Starting as a sophomore was a big surprise to me,” Tash said. “I was only 15 years old, and I wasn’t even driving myself to practice, my mom was dropping me off. That was a big step for me because I was a young kid in charge of going out and leading our team on Friday nights.”

He rewarded the trust of the Joplin coaching staff by completing 199 of 267 passes for a completion percentage of 74.5% as the Eagles went on to win the Ozark Conference with an 8-2 record. In 2018, Tash completed 141 of 203 passes (69.5%) as a junior while helping to lead Joplin to a 10-3 record its first season in the Central Ozark Conference, earning a trip to the Class 6 state semifinals. Tash wrapped up his career by completing 197 of 260 passes (75.8%) as a senior for a team that finished with a 13-1 record, a COC title and runner-up finish in Class 6.

“I am so grateful for the coaching staff believing in me,” Tash said. “I will forever be thankful for that. Coach (Brandon) Taute and Coach (Curtis) Jasper really believed in me to run the offense they wanted. Coach Taute, our offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, worked with me every day to make sure I understood how to be a good quarterback.

“The players around me were also a huge part of this national record and the career that I’ve had. Honestly, it is just as much them as it was me. I wouldn’t have been able to break the state or national record without them or the hard work they put in. The amount they pushed me in practice, from the offensive line to Zach Westmorland and Isaiah Davis and everyone on the defense, it really drove me to be successful.”

Tash is always the first to give credit to his teammates and coaches when there is success on the field. And he truly means every word he says about their importance to his achievements as a passer. However, there is a work ethic about Tash that few student-athletes possess, which gave him the drive to get better each season in the Joplin offense.

And while Tash now holds the highest completion percentage in the country, his play hasn’t attracted as much attention from college coaches as he would have hoped. As it stands, Tash, who has aspirations of playing collegiate football at the DI or DII level, only has offers from Fort Scott Community College, Evangel University and Dordt University on the table. While he is grateful to have those offers, he just wants an opportunity to prove he can play at an even higher level.

“A lot of college coaches at the higher levels tend to not look at me because of my size, being 6-foot and 185 pounds,” Tash said. “One thing I would say to them is guys like Drew Brees and Russell Wilson are not 6-foot-4 or 6-foot-5, but they have had extremely successful careers and will probably go on to be Hall of Famers. I might not be the biggest guy on the field, but I won’t get outworked by anyone on the field. ... Me not having that size made me focus on making sure that my passes are as accurate as they can be.

“I love to compete and won’t let anyone beat me. If they do, they are going to have to work for it. I will compete on the field, in the weight room and in the classroom because I have a winning attitude and don’t like to lose.”

Holding the national career completion percentage record coming off a senior season to remember will always be a memory Tash cherishes. Admittedly, he would trade the record for a state title in a second’s notice, but he is proud to have his name in the record books representing the city of Joplin and the Eagles.

“I know that Joplin football wasn’t always something the community was involved with,” Tash said. “The support over the last three years from the community has been outstanding, and it meant a lot to all of us as we built the foundation for this program.

“The goal for me this year was not to break a national record. I actually didn’t even know about it until after the CJ game. But even after I found out, the goal was still to win a state championship and be the best I could be for my teammates week in and week out. Even though we didn’t win a state championship, it was still a great experience, and I loved sharing it with my teammates and coaches. Looking back, I am so grateful for all my teammates, coaches and family for believing in me and pushing me because without them, I wouldn’t have been able to do it.”

Recommended for you