Mustangs kick in more ways than one

Published 7:38 pm Thursday, September 20, 2012

It’s fairly safe to say that next to linemen, kickers have the most thankless job in all of football.

On the surface, it seems like kickers live cushy lives; they don’t tackle, they don’t get hit and all they ever have to do is kick the ball, whether in practice or a game. Most of them have quirks, and to be honest, it takes a different breed to be a kicker.

But put stereotypes aside and think about it; they only get to practice when there is space not being occupied by either the offense or defense, they often have to face the stigma of playing a position deemed less athletic than others and often they are nameless until a kick is needed in a crucial situation.

And heaven help them should they miss.

On a more local note, the Isabella Mustangs earned a region win over Prattville Christian because of two made extra points – including one in the last 90 seconds – by kicker Chanley Ratliff, boosting them to 2-1 on the season.

While some high schools scrap practicing the kicking game in favor of working on tightening the defense or smoothing out the offense, Coach Scott Booth said Isabella focuses on special teams.

“We always kick extra points,” he said. “We work on it a pretty good bit. We practice it every week.”

Booth said his team has an “open tryout process” for all positions on special teams, including kickers. Everyone who thinks they can kick are given an opportunity to do so, and Booth and his staff review those, deciding on a kicker based on the week’s practice and pregame.

“It’s a try-and-miss type deal,” he said.

Despite being the hot hand – or foot, in this case – Booth said Ratliff, also a starting lineman, has no guarantee that he has the starting kicking job going into Friday’s home game against Horseshoe Bend (2-1).

“It all depends on how he looks in practice this week,” said Booth. “Just because you start this week doesn’t mean you’ll start next week.”

Booth went on to say that while Ratliff has to earn his starting spot this week, he has a slight advantage on others vying to kick.

“Seeing as how he banged two through last week,” said Booth. “He has the leg up.”