By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Drew White’s success as a kicker is starting to figure into the opposing team’s game plan.
Shannon coach Chad Cook respected Tupelo’s junior kicker so much that he altered his strategy late in the third quarter of last week’s game between his Red Raiders and White’s Golden Wave.
Trailing 13-0 – six of those points coming on White’s field goals of 48 and 29 yards – Shannon scored a touchdown and went for a 2-point conversion instead of kicking an extra point.
“Heck, if they cross the 50 that cat’s (White) going to make it,” Cook said of his decision to try for two. “I gotta try to cut it to a one-score game. That way we’re only down by one score (16-8, if White hits another field goal).”
Three minutes later, White booted a 32-yard field goal to give Tupelo a 16-8 lead in an eventual 23-8 victory.
“It feels great to stand out, not only to my coaches, but others,” White said before Tuesday’s practice.
White enjoyed his success against the Red Raiders, especially since his family is from Shannon and he followed the Red and Black’s exploits as a child.
“My cousin, Jeremy Mask, used to kick there,” White said. “He showed me everything I needed to know when I started out.”
Strong and accurate
Not only has White been effective kicking field goals – he’s 5 of 7 for the season – but he’s 5 of 5 on extra points, has kicked 14 of his 16 kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks and has averaged 41.4 yards on 21 punts. As a sophomore, he was 12 of 12 on extra points and averaged 40 yards punting.
“He’s a tremendous difference-maker when it comes to field position and things of that nature,” Tupelo coach David Bradberry said. “He’s made an impact. He’s better than we anticipated.”
White’s 48-yarder at Shannon is his career-best. He missed a 52-yarder against Shannon, but made a 65-yarder – without pressure – in practice.
“We feel like we have a shot at 3 points with him,” Bradberry said. “I think he can hit at least a 55-yarder, if he doesn’t over kick it.”
White takes pride in all of his duties.
“I just want to help my team as much as I can,” he said. “Field position helps my team. It’s all about giving the defense a better shot. Putting points up also helps my team.”
It hasn’t been all success for White, however. He had his late 38-yard field goal attempt – one that would have tied the game – blocked in the Wave’s 10-7 loss to Starkville.
“You always dream of hitting a game-winning type field goal,” he said. “That’s why the Starkville game was so tough.”
White’s workout routine is the same every practice – punting, kickoffs, extra points and field goals – with his snapper Joel Baldwin and holder J.G. Miley.
While he’s also a member of the Golden Wave soccer team, White says football is his first love.
“My heart’s in kicking,” he said. “I really want to focus on that and get as good as I can.”