Smith soars from 45

The Covington News - - Sports -

Ea­gles, record-set­ting kicker face Al­covy

The Jack­son de­fender came bar­rel­ing around the left side of the offensive line, and his gloved hand just met Colton Smith’s at­tempt from 40 yards out spoil­ing a big field goal for the East­side place kicker, and keep­ing the Ea­gles from putting points on the board last Fri­day night.

Smith walked over to the East­side side­line, grabbed a cup of wa­ter, al­lowed the im­age to linger in his mind for one more sec­ond and then moved on.

Later in the same game, East­side coach Rick Hurst called upon Smith again, this time for a 45-yard at­tempt. Not only was this kick longer than his pre­vi­ous try, but it was also lon- ger than any other East­side kicker has ever made.

Smith stepped up to the chal­lenge, re­mem­ber­ing the tech­niques he has been work­ing on since the eighth grade. The se­nior ran up to the ball, stepped up to it, kick through it and watched as East­side scored its first

three points and he en­tered the Ea­gles’ record books.

“My line did great,” Smith said. “They were fan­tas­tic all night. I also got con­fi­dence from coach Hurst that he was able to send me out from 45.”

When East­side got within the 40-yard line, Hurst knew he would send his kicker out on fourth down with a win-win sit­u­a­tion. Ei­ther Smith would make the kick, which he did, or thanks to high school football rules if he made it to the end zone, which Hurst knew he was ca­pa­ble of, Jack­son would take over at the 20.

“It’s kind of hard to down a punt inside the 20,” Hurst said. “So we would pin them back or get the three points; it’s al­ways a plus no mat­ter which way you go.”

Of course Smith got the three points, and it helped East­side start a big rally.

“It was huge,” Hurst said. “It got us off the schneid. We got some much needed three points. He hit it well, a lit­tle low, but I think if he would have got­ten un­der it much more, it wouldn’t have car­ried. “It was a good kick.” Smith rou­tinely hits kicks from 50 yards dur­ing prac­tices but has never been called on for such a lengthy kick dur­ing a game. When Hurst came over to him Fri­day night, he was ready.

It’s been four years of Smith get­ting ready for this op­por­tu­nity since he tried place kick­ing with his fa­ther. Smith had played soc­cer up through his eighth-grade year, when he thought that he could give place kick­ing a shot.

“I thought ‘I can kick, let’s see if I can kick a football,’” Smith said. “I was good at it and just found a love for football and kick­ing and ev­ery­thing that goes with it.”

From that point on he dropped soc­cer, fo­cus­ing en­tirely on football, and not want­ing to risk an­other in­jury such as the con­cus­sion he suf­fered on the soc­cer field (his think­ing was place kick­ers are more pro­tected with hel­met and pads).

His switch to a full-time football player has not only brought him East­side’s long­est-ever kick but also a game win­ner over Jack­son last year with 2.3 sec­onds left. That kick still holds as his best mo­ment with Fri­day’s kick a close sec­ond.

Also Smith’s football play­ing has helped lead to col­le­giate op­por­tu­ni­ties with teams from Division I through Division III ap­proach­ing him to kick for them af­ter he grad­u­ates.

Smith may be called on to­day as East­side faces in­ter-county ri­vals Al­covy at 7:30 p.m. at Sharp Sta­dium.

When Hurst goes to his spe­cial teams’ unit to­day, he is hop­ing it is im­proved from East­side’s pre­vi­ous game when it had an ex­tra point and a field goal blocked.

“We fixed it,” Hurst said. “The guys un­der­stand that it’s a big part of the game.”

East­side has also been work­ing on adding con­sis­tency to its of­fense, which has shifted to no-hud­dle in the first two games. The of­fense has been work­ing as East­side scored a com­bined 55 points in its first two games, but there are still some kinks be­ing worked out with tempo.

“When you go three-and­out in a con­ven­tional of­fense it takes time off the clock, when you go three-and-out in hurry-up, it seems like it was one play and you’re out,” Hurst said. “That’s the thing we have to do is continue to be pa­tient and get some­thing go­ing.”

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