SOMETIMES HISTORYis only 26 yards away. Senior kicker Jimmy Stevens of Heritage Hall (OklahomaCity) stood on the middle hash mark last Friday in the second quarter of a homegame against Bethel (Shawnee, Okla.) and surveyed the goalposts from thatdistance. It was not just another kick coming up--Stevens had made 48 fieldgoals in his high school career and stood tied with two other kickers for themost ever--but it was another kick that had to be executed with precision. Afew seconds later the ball spun through the uprights, and Stevens was alone atthe top. "It was a real easy shot," he says. "I just concentratedon keeping my head down and following through."
Stevens, whostarted kicking in eighth grade, is, like many kickers, meticulous about hisstats. "I was 8 of 11 in my freshman year, 10 of 13 in my sophomore year,22 of 29 in my junior year and 10 of 22 so far this year," he says. He isalso superstitious. He has worn the same white socks over his cleats every gamefor four years.
Though his fieldgoal rate slipped to 45% this year, Stevens says the figure is misleading."Anywhere around the 50 yard-line the coach has me try a field goal. Sevenof those misses have been from 50-plus yards and two from over 60." Stevenskicks so often partly because in high school a kick that reaches the end zoneis a touchback, which could be better than a punt.
November 13, 2006
Next year atOklahoma he must learn how to placekick off the ground and transition from atwo-inch tee for kickoffs to a one-inch college tee. But Chris Sailer, a coachwho ranked Stevens 10th out of 600 kickers at his National Kicking Competitionin Las Vegas last year, says Stevens will be fine. "He is one of the mostmechanically sound high school kickers I have ever worked with."
Against Bethel,Stevens also nailed a 52-yard field goal, his career best. But with nineseconds left, he missed a 31-yarder, and Bethel won 14--13. "I had a greatnight," says Stevens, whose parents, Jim, an oil-drilling speculator, andColleen, an insurance-sales officer, met him on the field after therecord-breaker. "But I made it a little bad by trying to kick that [last]ball too hard." He'll have a chance for redemption when the Chargers faceWatonga (Okla.) High this Friday in the first round of the playoffs.
Getting a Leg Up
The NFL's top active scorers kicked up a storm in highschool
JOHN CARNEY (1,696 NFL points) The second alltimescoring leader (left) for the New Orleans Saints was an all-state placekickerfor Cardinal Newman High (West Palm Beach, Fla.), in 1982.
MATT STOVER (1,653) The Baltimore Ravens' kicker hadhis longest high school field goal (50 yards) when he set the Texas record forthe most FGs in a game (five), while at Lake Highlands High (Dallas) in'85.
JASON ELAM (1,608) Holder of five Denver Broncosrecords for field goals, Elam was all-state at Brookwood High (Snellville, Ga.)in '88.
JASON HANSON (1,474) The 15-year veteran is theDetroit Lions' alltime leading scorer. At Mead High (Spokane), he was afirst-team all-state kicker in '88.