Kickers playing big roles early in high school football season

Centerville junior Jackson Courville and Wayne sophomore Luke Daulton stood on different football fields last Friday night facing the same pressure.

Courville’s team trailed at Mason 14-12 with 20 seconds left. His job was to kick a 46-yard field goal. Daulton’s team trailed Reynoldsburg 15-14. His job was to kick a 35-yard field goal as time expired.

Last-second situations like this are rare for high school kickers. But they both made the kicks and their teams won – Centerville 15-14 and Wayne 17-15 – setting off big celebrations. For both, it was their first game-winning kicks.

“You want to be in a position where you can really help out your team,” Courville said. “We were down and we’d had a rough game, but I was glad I was in a position to help my team.”

Kickers are helping their teams all over the Greater Western Ohio Conference:

· Courville is 3-for-3 this season, including a career-long 47-yarder against Fairfield in the season opener.

· Fairmont junior Will Holt has made 5-of-6 attempts, including a long of 43 yards. His only miss was blocked.

· Daulton, Thomas Moning of Miamisburg, Sean Morse of Beavercreek and Cole Yost of Springfield have each made one field goal.

Centerville scored a late touchdown and recovered an onside kick off the foot of senior Brendan Salo to set up Courville’s field goal. Courville had confidence that Salo would pull off the onside kick, and when it happened the situation was real.

“I’m just over there by myself warming up,” Courville said. “There were some people over by the net keeping people away from me, telling them not to talk to me.”

From snapper Coby Castor to holder Chase Harrison to Courville’s right foot, Courville had a good feeling when his foot made contact.

“You can tell just by the way it hits your foot – it doesn’t feel like anything, it just pops off your foot,” he said. “I was pretty confident it was going in when I saw it flying through the air.”

But he didn’t react right away. As Harrison jumped on him in celebration, Courville watched the kick all the way to be sure. Then he celebrated.

“That’s the most excited I’ve been,” he said. “The week before, the 47-yarder, that’s my longest. I was super excited after that. And then a week later being able to top that is like insane.”

Courville grew up playing soccer and started kicking footballs as a hobby in sixth grade. He kicked for the eighth-grade team and decided to be a football player in high school and give up soccer. He kicked for the freshman team and then made 4-of-6 field goals and all 25 extra-point attempts last year.

In the offseason, he works with kicking coach Tim Williams, a former Ohio State kicker from Waynesville. This past summer he attended camps in Chicago, Gatlinburg, Tenn., and Maryland.

Courville wants to kick in college at the highest level. He’s not hearing from schools yet, but that’s normal for kickers. Recruiting tends to be later in the cycle for kickers. He’s checking out schools with good business programs and prominent football programs. For now, his focus is on improvement and being content with a range of 53 to 55 yards.

“I’m more focused on how accurate I am,” he said. “I know the power will come when I keep growing and I get in the weight room and get the right nutrition.”

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