– FALMOUTH – Joe Goodrich munched on a cookie shaped and frosted with icing to give it the look of a football. Sitting in his family’s kitchen, he reached for another. Talk about the 15-year-old kid who eats, sleeps and lives the game.

Outside on the expansive front lawn, regulation-size football goalposts made from yellow pipe stood out against Thursday’s gray sky. Goodrich had just finished kicking ball after ball through the uprights for the benefit of a newspaper photographer. Within the hour he left for Falmouth High’s football practice and more kicks.

Sugar high or not, Goodrich had his feet on the ground. He had kicked the extra point that enabled Falmouth to beat rival Greely 31-30 last weekend. He kicked the 30-yard field goal that helped keep Falmouth in the game, setting up the comeback from a 30-17 deficit.

The remarkable thing is, Goodrich wasn’t the go-to kicker when the season started, which gives him a certain balance. What’s come to him most recently has been earned.

He is almost literally walking in the footsteps of an older brother, an uncle and a father. David Goodrich was invited to walk on to the University of Connecticut’s Division I team this summer. Uncle Steve Goodrich played soccer at Gorham High in the late 1970s and later walked on to the University of Rhode Island team as a placekicker and punter. He kicked for the Maine Sabers in the 1990s and at age 53 was spotted teeing up the ball this month and kicking 40-yarders off the wall at the Portland Sports Complex.

Jim Goodrich, 49, father to David and Joe, played soccer in high school and once slipped into his brother’s Maine Sabers uniform to kick a field goal and three extra points. Thursday, Joe Goodrich claimed, with a touch of guilt, his ignorance. “I didn’t know until a few weeks ago my uncle kicked that well.”

Someone broke out old video for proof. The young brothers have been to summer camps to work on their kicking. Sometimes the coaching and instruction comes at home in their front yard.

Ten or 12 times this summer, Goodrich men kicked balls through uprights. A line of old-growth trees prevented the balls from startling unsuspecting drivers on Winn Road. Joe Goodrich shrugs. Maybe he kicked 500 balls. Maybe 600. He did some math. In a single session, he usually stopped at 50.

Sometimes the brothers invented games. Sometimes they imagined moments. Adam Vinatieri and the Super Bowl victories anyone? Actually, Joe Goodrich is a fan of Sebastian Janikowski, the Oakland Raiders’ kicker.

David Goodrich is third on UConn’s depth chart and a redshirt. New Hampshire and Richmond also expressed interest but he didn’t get any scholarship offers. At UConn he doesn’t travel with the team, but does dress for home games. “It was a little overwhelming at first, but I started to fit in. I get to work on my kicking with one of the best.”

Senior Dave Teggart was All-Big East last season and a candidate for the national placekicking award named for Lou Groza, the former NFL star. “I’m learning and I don’t have to worry about my game performance,” said Goodrich from his campus dorm. “It’s definitely a pressure position but I’ve learned how to kick through it.”

His younger brother is learning, too. The game almost stops as the kicker waits for his holder to catch the snap from the center and set the ball. All eyes are on the kicker.

“It’s a very lonely experience,” said John Fitzsimmons, Falmouth’s coach. “The ball has to be hiked correctly, placed correctly, the line has to block.” If one of those components break down, the odds of a successful kick crash.

Doesn’t matter either, if it’s a field goal — and Joe Goodrich says his range is 45 yards or so — or an extra point. Same mechanics, same force. Fans think a point-after is easier. Fitzsimmons says it’s not at the high school level. “If you miss, it is literally the bursting of the balloon after you just scored a touchdown.”

Tough on a teenage kicker.

Fitzsimmons didn’t say anything to young Goodrich before he kicked his field goal and extra points. “Joe is very, very quiet, very diligent. Each week I’ve seen the confidence getting stronger in his eyes. I had complete confidence in him and he had a perfect night.”

The kid who didn’t get the job until after the third week of the season drove the football for the point after down the middle for Falmouth’s winning point. His teammates celebrated that night. They cheered again when they watched a video replay.

Thursday night those teammates were coming over to the Goodrich house for the team dinner before tonight’s Western Class B playoff game with Westbrook. The cookies baked as miniature footballs were for them. C’mon, they’re hungry teenagers.

Goodrich made sure he left enough for them.

Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

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