Last Friday night during the Russell-Ashland game, the Red Devils had a drive stall near the Tomcats’ 40-yard line.
Without hesitation, the Russell coaching staff called for the field goal unit and kicker Patrick Soucy.
The 50-yard field goal fell short — a bad snap, a hurried Soucy and Ashland getting a fingertip on the ball caused the miss.
But Soucy got something he’s been looking for since starting to kick for Russell three years ago: Trust from his team.
“I think they have confidence in me,” Soucy said. “They didn’t come up and say, ‘Can you hit this?’ They just said, ‘field goal team.’ We didn’t even try a field goal last year.”
Before the 50-yard try, Soucy hit two field goals from 40 and 30 yards out.
Russell and Soucy are a perfect example of the resurgence in the kicking game in the area this season.
Several teams are looking toward soccer players to handle their kicking duties.
Robert Wesley has been handling extra points in Ashland and Evan Huddle hit a 37-yard field goal for East Carter last weekend.
Johnson Central soccer/football player Tyler Pack hit a 58-yard field goal to tie a state record last week.
When asked why soccer players would want to try football, Soucy said why not.
“I think it’s pretty appealing if you ask me,” Soucy said. “I always thought it would be fun. The whole aspect of having a chance to help out another team, I think, is pretty cool.”
Soccer players aren’t the only ones getting in on the action. Zac Bruner in Boyd County has been a bright spot for the Lions this year.
In fact, the idea of kicking has swept the area, including camps (such as Prokicker) that focus on kicking, punting and longsnapping. The idea of more kickers learning to do things the right way excites Soucy.
“I personally hate toe-ball kickers,” said the senior. “This summer I went to Aaron Pettrey’s camp at KCU. He completely changed my form ... and ever since then I keep getting better and better.”
Look for the football to fly from feet a little bit straighter than what most area fans are used to on Friday nights.
Game of the week
-Hazard at Fairview: It’s a rematch of the Class A state semifinal. It’s also a battle of top-ranked teams — No. 5 Fairview and No. 6 Hazard — that could be a preview of the postseason.
Hazard has a standout running back in junior Brandon Jones, who is averaging 236 yards per game. The Bulldogs also have a potent passing game with freshman quarterback Tanner Morgan and his 184 yards per game.
Led by running backs Tanner Dolen and Isaiah King, Fairview has averaged more than 400 yards of rushing offense in the early season. The Eagles also have a 24-regular-season-game winning streak and haven’t lost at home since 2011.
There is a good reason that Fairview coach Nathan McPeek is excited for Friday night. And he’s hoping a lot of folks in the area are excited, too.
“We hopefully have some other people wanting to come watch a great Class A football game,” McPeek said. “I think these are two of the top five or six Class A teams in the state playing here in Westwood. I don’t know why you wouldn’t come here and watch it.”
-West Carter at Greenup County could be a really good game to watch. The Comets are on a two-game winning streak behind quarterback Braden Brown.
Brown also leads the area in rushing with 198 yards per game and nine touchdowns on the ground.
But Brown and the Comets are playing against the best defense they’ve seen this season in Greenup County. The Musketeers have allowed only one 100-yard rusher this season (Raceland’s Kane Snyder).
Don’t be surprised to see Brown take to the air more tonight. The sophomore has 164 passing yards on just nine completions.
-Boyd County looks to avoid its eighth straight loss to Russell. The last time the Lions beat the Red Devils, Dane Damron was in his last year at Boyd County.
It seems like Russell has Boyd County’s number, but a strong showing against South Point could help start a turnaround at the midpoint of the season.
Russell is coming off a game where it allowed just 211 yards of offense. With Boyd County struggling to find an offensive identity, look for the Red Devils defense to take advantage.
-East Carter is looking for two in a row. The Raiders got their first win on Sunday afternoon behind quarterback Cole McClain’s 146 total yards and three touchdowns.
The next step for East Carter is to win back-to-back games, something the program hasn’t done since 2007.
It will be tough as they travel to Lawrence County, who is led by senior quarterback A.J. Cyrus. After struggling against Fairview, Cyrus responded with 186 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ 48-26 win over Breathitt County last week.
The Raiders will also have to try and find a way to stop Bulldogs running back Derek Ferguson, who ran for 135 yards.
Into The Airwaves
Tonight’s radio coverage:
Ironton at Ashland (WBVB 97.1-FM, WIRO 1230-AM); Russell at Boyd County (WLGC 105.7-FM); West Carter at Greenup County (wlgcradio.com, WUGO 99.7-FM); Hazard at Fairview (wlgcradio.com); Harlan County at Johnson Central (98.9 WSIP-FM); East Carter at Lawrence County (WZAQ 92.3-FM); Tates Creek at Rowan County (WMOR 106.1-FM); Lewis County at Powell County (WKKS 104.9-FM).
Also, the Russell-Boyd County game will be livestreamed at greenupbeacon.com.
For scores, news and other tidbits about the area sports scene, follow me on Twitter (@KHobstetter). You can also follow sports editor Aaron Snyder (@DIndependentQB). But you might not get much this week except him petitioning the Browns to give him a shot at running back.
KYLE HOBSTETTER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2658.