By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal
With the game on the line, you would be confident in any of these kickers to deliver the game-winning kick.
“As a ninth-grader, he kicked a game-winner in Pearl,” Lafayette coach Anthony Hart said about his kicker Tyler Jackson converting a 26-yarder in overtime during a second-round playoff game on the road. “We’ll send him out there anytime we have a chance.”
Speaking of game-winners, Corinth’s Jordan Parker also had one his freshman year. In a 2007 MHSAA Class 3A first-round playoff game at Winona, Parker booted a 42-yard field goal to break a 21-all tie with 14 seconds left in the game.
“Last year, he was an all-state first-team kicker,” Corinth coach Jimmy Mitchell said about Parker, who is now in his senior season. “He’s worked hard. He’s done the things he has to do.
“I don’t know anything to teach him about kicking but except to get it off.”
Over to the southwest, Marshall Academy coach Keith Wicker isn’t afraid to send out senior Chase Carpenter to try a field goal, but prefers for him to be kicking extra points instead.
“We can’t be kicking field goals,” said Wicker, his comments coming after a recent three field-goal game by his kicker. “Our offense has just been bogging down.
“I gotta have touchdowns. I can’t have field goals every time.”
While the offense has struggled to put the ball in the end zone, Carpenter has succeeded in putting the ball through the uprights. This season, the senior kicker is 32 of 36 on extra points and 7 of 9 on field goals, with his longest being from 49 yards out.
“He kicked a 49-yarder with plenty to spare,” Wicker said of Carpenter’s field goal in his team’s 25-6 win over Indianola Academy on Oct. 15. “He hit it just right.
“In my head, I was thinking it was going to be a 42-yard attempt, but someone then told me, ‘Coach, it’s going to be from 49.’ I said, ‘Well, it’s too late now.'”
Not their specialty
Each of those three coaches would have to say that punting is not one of their kickers’ strong suits.
“He’s an average punter,” Hart said of Jackson, who kicked a 50-yard field goal in practice last Thursday. “Punting is not his thing.”
The same could be said for Carpenter, who is averaging 41 yards per punt this season.
“Punting is not his strong suit,” Wicker noted. “Kicking is his strong suit.”
Parker, on the other hand, has improved his punting. Through his team’s first five games of the season, he was averaging close to 39 yards per punt.
“He’s been our kicker for four years,” Mitchell said. “What he’s done is he’s improved his punting. He’s now a big-time punter. He can really punt.”
Kickoffs, now that’s a different story for the three players.
“He can certainly put it in the end zone,” Hart said of Jackson’s ability to kick off. “We directional kick more than putting it in the end zone.
“He kicks it high and to the numbers, 2 and 3 (-yard lines). That’s where we want it.”
Meanwhile, Carpenter is coming off his best game handling kickoff duties.
“Let’s just say his last game was the best game by far I’ve seen him kick off,” Wicker said about Friday’s 35-7 win over Oak Hill Academy. “He kicked off seven times and all but one went in the end zone. In fact, most went into the back of the end zone.
“It was by far the best game I’ve seen him kick.”
Parker also routinely gets the ball into the end zone on kickoffs, and when he doesn’t, the ball is usually caught at the 2-yard line, says his head coach.
“He can do his directional kicking, left to right,” Mitchell said. “Someone is going to get a two-for-one signee.”
A whole different thing
And perhaps more than any other position, kickers have a harder time being recruited.
“I think Jordan is definitely a Division I quality kicker,” Mitchell said of his senior kicker. “It’s just going to be a matter of who’s going to sign a kicker.
“Signing kickers is a whole different world. It all comes down to who’s looking for one. … It depends on whether there’s a slot available and how he fits in.”
While Jackson is only in his junior year at Lafayette, Carpenter has had several junior colleges show interest in him and had visited Delta State on a recent weekend. Although, no SEC schools have inquired about Marshall Academy’s 5-foot-8, 145-pound kicker.
“He’s small but God does he have a leg,” Wicker said. “I’m sure somebody will take a chance on the kid. He’s a great kid and a great student.”
Carpenter, Jackson and Parker have been to kicking camps at colleges in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. They have worked hard at their craft, and the results have shown during games.
“He works too hard,” Wicker said of Carpenter. “He kicks, kicks, kicks and kicks. He just goes overboard and wants to be good.”
Contact John Wilbert at 678-1572 or firstname.lastname@example.org.