By ROCKY STANLEY
ASHLAND Now this is Dylan Patrick’s idea of playing football.
Relegated to kicking duties last year because of his premium leg strength and accuracy, the Ashland senior is getting every opportunity to earn significant playing time on the offensive and defensive lines.
The Tomcats have plenty of holes to fill after graduation hit the 9-3 team with the force of a Cade O’Bryan sack.
“Dylan’s going to go from famine to feast,” said Tony Love, the Tomcats’ new head coach. “We were selective with him last season because he was so valuable with being able to kick.”
Patrick connected on 33 extra points and a field goal.
“He worked out last year, but even with JV we were concerned about putting him in,” Love said. “It bothered Dylan because he wanted to do more.”
Said Patrick: “I wanted to be out there, but I understood. They didn’t want to risk an injury, so that was better for the team.”
Now the Tomcats need help up front and Patrick looks to be a good fit.
Listed at 6-feet and 205 pounds, Patrick has the kind of power and agility necessary to enable him to become successful in the trenches.
It’s certain that Patrick has no trouble moving large amounts of weight. He bench presses 315 pounds and can squat 540.
“I would say he’s the strongest guy on the team,” said Love, who keeps close tabs on what goes on in the weight room. “Dylan hasn’t had a lot of on-field experience on the line, but look how strong and athletic he is.”
Patrick traded in his No. 10 jersey from a year ago for No. 60, but that doesn’t mean his kicking days for the Tomcats are over.
He expects to share those duties with senior Robert Wesley, a football newcomer who is one of Ashland’s top soccer players.
Patrick and Wesley both attended the recent Ray Guy Prokicker.com camp at Putnam Stadium.
“It was really good,” Patrick said. “They help you refine things to be more accurate.”
For Patrick, kicking has come naturally.
“I always had a good foot,” said the straight-on kicker whose ability to boot the ball goes all the way back to his kickball days in grade school.
Love said the Tomcats’ kicking plans will be sorted out as the preseason moves forward. Since Patrick uses the old-style square toed kicking shoe, switching from his standard cleat for extra points or field goals could be tricky from a time standpoint.
“We will have to see how it works out,” Patrick said. “I might punt this year.”
Love said Friday that Patrick continues to make steady progress as a lineman.
“He has to learn blocking schemes, how to adjust, all those things,” Love said. “It’s going well.”
ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-26761.