At this point in the season, the 16 high school teams still alive probably have rehearsed their offensive, defensive and special teams assignments ad nauseam as far as the players are concerned. Away from the mundane repetition are the place-kickers doing their thing at the other end of the field.
The importance of a talented kicker can not be overstated, as Kennebunk knows.
Jake Lary, who played soccer for Kennebunk last season, booted an 18-yard field goal in the final seconds last weekend to keep a magical season alive and give the Rams (10-0) a 17-15 win over Westbrook in the Western Class B semifinals.
Lary, a senior, asked Coach Joe Rafferty about kicking for the team last year. Lary had hoped to play soccer, then show up on game days to kick for the football team.
Rafferty told Lary he couldn’t play two sports in the fall; it would have to be one or the other. Lary chose football.
As a junior, Lary spent the second semester in Austria on an exchange program.
“He said he would love to try kicking and kept in contact with me through e-mail while he was away,” said Rafferty. “We gave him a bag of footballs in August to practice. He came to us pretty raw. Mike Fagerson, one of our assistant coaches who had been a kicker in high school, works with him.”
Rafferty said Lary, who also runs track, will work with the receivers during practice but for the most part is doing kicking drills.
Now having seen Lary boom the ball in the end zone on kickoffs, combined with his consistency on PATs, Rafferty said: “We’ve never had a kid with this talent.”
Lary was 9 of 9 in PATs in a lopsided game against Oceanside during the season, and has kicked six field goals with his longest being 34 yards.
Ironically, Lary missed his first point after of the season but has been solid ever since.
It was kind of a no-brainer to have Lary kick what amounted to a PAT in the final seconds against Westbrook. But he still had to keep his head down and make the kick.
There was not only pressure on Lary to deliver, but for snapper Joe Mazzillo and holder Larson Coppinger.
Should Kennebunk need a field goal in Saturday’s regional final against Marshwood from 35 yards in, Rafferty said he wouldn’t hesitate to send in Lary.
“Jake has been a lot of fun and a nice addition to the team,” said Rafferty. “He’s definitely a kicker. He’s pretty loose out there.”
The Cheverus-Portland game for the Eastern Class A title Saturday at Cheverus High will feature two talented kickers in Patrick Mourmouras of the Stags and John Williams of the Bulldogs.
Mourmouras has been nearly automatic on PATs over the last two seasons. This year he is 56 of 59. Last year he was 49 of 53. Mourmouras, a junior, has attempted two field goals, one this year and one last year, and missed both.
Williams, a sophomore, has missed only one PAT in his last 22 attempts and has a 27-yard field goal against South Portland.
The Bulldogs didn’t know Williams, who transferred from Cheverus, was a kicker when the season started.
The Bulldogs were inconsistent on PATs in the first three games of the season. Williams kicked a few in practice one day and Coach Jim Hartman knew he had a kicker.
“John been a real godsend for us,” said Hartman. “He has a great leg and has really improved. He works with Rocco Navarro.”
Navarro is a former punter-kicker for Portland and the University of Maine.
Other teams with talented kickers like Chris Camire of Thornton Academy have an advantage.
For the most part teams know they’re going to get seven points with a touchdown and don’t have to try a 2-point conversion to get back on pace.
Both Cheverus and Portland use different people for kickoffs because their legs are a little stronger.
For Cheverus, that’s Zordan Holman, a 6-foot-6 junior tight end/defensive end. For Portland, quarterback Jordan Talbot kicks off.
Holman averages 55 yards on kickoffs and has booted 23 of his 58 kicks into the end zone. That’s a huge advantage for the defense to have the opponent start on the 20 instead of the 40, midfield or even worse, returning it for a touchdown.
KENNEBUNK AND YORK each placed six players on the Campbell Conference Class B all-star team.
Representing Kennebunk are Nick Emmons, Nicco Delorenzo, Larson Coppinger, Austin Cressy, Ben Bath and Chris Broadhead. From York are Ross Hogan, Kyle Miller, Jordan Pidgeon, Sean Kelly, Zach Hanley and Mitchell Lee. Marshwood placed five players on the all-stars.
On the Class C Campbell Conference all-stars were seven players from Leavitt. Cape Elizabeth had five players – Christian Lavallee, Caelan Houle, Ethan Murphy, Tony Moulton and Devon Stanford.
THE CHEVERUS HIGH Key Club asks that people attending Saturday’s playoff game bring a canned non-perishable food item to help supplement the 750 Thanksgiving food baskets the club will donate to the Greater Portland community. This is an annual drive. The items will be collected at the gate.
Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at: