Kickers proving their worth
The video of Austin Rehkow, a kicker for the Spokane Valley (Wash.) Central Valley High School football team, making a 67-yard field goal spread across the Internet like wildfire.
If you haven't seen the video, the kick would have been good from 70 yards -- maybe even 72 -- in his team's 62-55 overtime win over Spokane (Wash.) Shadle Park on Oct. 18. The kick tied the game at 55 as time expired in regulation.
Rehkow, who at the time of the kick had only a partial scholarship offer from Eastern Washington University, was on "Good Morning America" the next day discussing the kick that, according to the National Federation of High Schools, is tied for the second longest in a high school game. The record is 68 yards, set by Dirk Borgognone from Reno, Nev., in 1985.
Not too shabby for a player whose position, at least according to some fans, is reserved for those who aren't "real" football players.
With our state's playoffs set to begin Friday, Nov. 2, the importance of so-called small things can't be understated as the best of the best not only must worry about their opponent in the single-elimination tournament, but also the weather. Every little bit, good and bad, will count.
Kickers are not just kids who take up a roster spot. A football player isn't defined solely by one's ability to tackle someone into next week. In fact, sometimes a team doesn't have a kicker on its roster and can't get one from the soccer team. A kicker certainly is missed then.
St. Charles, which finished 6-4 this season, probably would have felt the absence of John Colosimo if it didn't have his 11 field goals. Colosimo and Dublin Coffman's Grant Coffman tied for the most field goals among area kickers this season. Dublin Scioto's Sam Crosa was next with 10, followed by Worthington Kilbourne's Jonathan Watson and Grove City Christian's Tristan Taylor with nine each and Pickerington North's Karch Holland, Canal Winchester's Noah Ising and Hilliard Darby's Kyle Kaplan with seven apiece.
Not having the option of turning to a reliable kicker can change the course of a game beyond simply taking away three points.
Among the most memorable plays involving area teams this fall was one that centered around a kicker, Pickerington Central freshman Devon McMillin. As McMillin prepared to attempt an extra point with the Tigers and host Reynoldsburg tied at 20 with 1 minute, 12 seconds remaining in their OCC-Ohio Division contest Sept. 21, the game was suspended because of lightning. Play resumed 13 hours later, meaning McMillin had all night and the next morning to think about a kick that could give the Tigers an important league victory.
And on top of that, when the game resumed, Reynoldsburg jumped offside on the first extra-point attempt and was penalized on the second try for unnecessary roughness. McMillin maintained his focus all the while, however, and made the third attempt, ultimately giving the Tigers a 21-20 win.
Putting the unforeseen circumstances aside, that kick alone didn't make Central's season. But without it, Reynoldsburg may have gone on to win in overtime. And if the Raiders had won, the Tigers would be turning in their uniforms this week instead of preparing to face Pickerington North in the first round of the Division I, Region 3 playoffs on Saturday, Nov. 3.
Kickers are players, too, especially when they come through in crunch time.