Lenexa-based Christ Preparatory celebrates national home-school football championship

LENEXA, Kan. -- It's a weekend made for football champions.

While several high school football programs in the metro are playing for state titles, one unique team from Johnson County has already celebrated its signature victory.

On Nov. 17, Christ Preparatory Academy won the National Homeschool Football Association Tournament, which was played outside Atlanta, Georgia. The Patriots (11-2) knocked off Landmark Christian, another home-school team from the Cincinnati, Ohio area.

"Let's have a good practice. We know our jobs. Let's do what we gotta do," one team captain was overheard saying during a recent practice.

The game is the same as the public schools play, and so are the dreams.

Patriot players, all of whom are at least partially home-schooled, get their educations in their own living rooms. A handful of them supplement their schooling by attending three meetings per week at Christ Prep in Lenexa.

"When that clock ran out, I can't tell you the feeling and the euphoria of it," Patriots Head Coach Tom Hurley said. "To hear the announcer announce us as national champions was incredible."

Hurley, who has been Christ Prep's football leader for six years, said his program is approved by the Kansas State High School Activities Association. Many of the team's 11 wins came against smaller class clubs from Missouri and Kansas. However, according to Hurley, the team can't compete in the KSHSAA playoffs, which makes the NHFA tournament of utmost importance.

The Patriots have played in the national tournament for the past six years, but this is the first time the program has won it all.

"It's not like we're playing football at a low level. We're very competitive at the level we're at. Folks are taking notice of what we're doing," Hurley told FOX4.

The Patriots won the right to play for the national title, but they paid for the trip to get there.

Christ Preparatory football is financially self-supporting. Coaches don't get paid, and each player`s family had to foot their own bill to see the national tournament down south. Hurley said many of his players commute as much as an hour for practices.

"It's magnificent. It's absolutely incredible," said Adam Wilkins, Christ Prep defensive tackle. "It might be a smaller level, but winning a national championship at any level is just something. It's once in a lifetime, and it's a completely new experience. It really can't be matched."

Hurley shared the design for the Patriots' national championship rings, which have several players hungry to get their hands on the jewelry.

"It looks really cool. I'm super excited," Luke Sato, Christ Prep middle linebacker, said as he smiled.

Hurley, who has one son on the current roster, and another who'll play at the varsity level within three years, said trophies are terrific, but the real payoff comes from making the public take notice. Christ Prep's team motto is "One Body," which reflected the program's intent to achieve their goals as a team.

"I know not everyone is familiar with the home-school world, but as far as football goes in the home-school world, it resides here in Kansas City because we won it all," Hurley said.