Photo by Derrick Mahone
Drew senior Marco Salas has given the Titans another offensive weapon once they reach the red zone. He was originally recruited off the soccer team.
Drew coach Jarrett Laws has never had any need to purchase a kicking net.
Like most teams in Clayton County, the kicking chores were handled by a makeshift soccer player or by any one else who could get the ball close to the uprights.
With senior Marco Salas pledging his duties — and his leg — to the Titans’ football squad, Drew now has a reliable kicker.
“Marco is a very good soccer player,” Laws said. “He has made a sound commitment to football like he has in soccer.”
Because of Salas commitment and dedication, Laws decided to invest in a kicking net so he can practice on the sidelines during games. Salas has made all but one of his extra-point attempts.
Since the Titans offense has been so potent, Salas has not had an opportunity to try a field goal this season.
Jonesboro coach Tim Floyd said having a reliable kicker takes a lot of pressure of the offense, and the defense as well.
“It gives you that safety net,” Floyd said. “Every time you get in the red zone, of course you want a touchdown, but if you can at least get a field goal it helps. You don’t want all the pressure on the offense.”
Forest Park kicker Michael Lee is hoping to have a chance to show off his leg in a way that can help his offense put more points on the board.
The sophomore who handles both kicking and punting duties for the 0-3 Panthers was also a starter for Forest Park’s soccer team that went through its region undefeated and made the second round of the playoffs.
Although soccer was Lee’s first love — he’s been playing the game since age six when he began at the Thunder Soccer Club in Henry County — now he has endeared himself to the game of football, thanks to some friendly peer pressure.
Lee was on the Babb Middle School soccer team when one of his friends suggested that he try kicking for the schools football team.
After his first few kicks at a Babb practice, Lee’s coach was convinced and he was hooked.
“My coach said I did pretty good,” Lee said. “So I just stuck with it.”
Lee is different from most of the Clayton County area kickers in that he looks at his kicking duties with the eye of a specialist.
Most of the area’s kickers are naturally suited for other places on the field, such as Jonesboro’s Cameron Sutton.
The Tennessee commit, who stars as a wide receiver and defensive back for the seventh-ranked Cardinals, was able to flip the field with punts of 62 and 46 yards in the team’s 34-33 loss to Griffin two weeks ago.
Though his form won’t cause him to be the subject of any Ray Guy comparisons, Sutton has been serviceable and has gotten the job done.
Lee said he wants to be more than serviceable, however. He said he has big plans for his leg.
“I want to be a kicking specialist,” he said. “Specialists focus more on their one position. I would love to go to college on scholarship. I think I have the range. I want to get better on kickoffs and onside kicks though.”
Lee, who said his favorite kicker is Indianapolis Colts’ — and former New England Patriots kicker — Adam Vinatieri.
“He won the Super Bowl with my favorite team, New England,” Lee said.
While other part-time kickers and punters are more focused on making the game-winning catch, game-breaking run or a touchdown saving tackle, there are a scattered few high school kickers in Georgia, like Lee who dream of making the game winning kick.
“I always dream of making that last kick to win the game,” said Lee who said he takes more than 250 practice kicks a week. “I wouldn’t be nervous. I think I’d just keep my head off all the pressure and pretend like it’s just practice.”