John Williams of Portland High was booming his kicks well over the crossbar from 40 yards this week in practice. Josh Dugas of Windham was doing the same.

Either one could determine the outcome of the Eastern Class A football semifinal between their teams Friday night.

Dugas and Williams are two of the leading kickers in the state. Dugas is 7 of 7 on field-goal attempts this season and has converted 25 of 27 extra points. Williams is 23 of 26 on extra points and 4 of 6 on field-goal attempts.

Second-seeded Windham (7-1) and third-ranked Portland (6-3) have no shortage of offensive standouts. Dylan Koza of Windham has rushed for 687 yards and scored 10 touchdowns, and Desmond Leslie has completed 64 percent of his passes.

Jordan Talbot of Portland can break a long run or hit a receiver on a long pass play. Joe Esposito has rushed for close to 800 yards.

And both kickers will be ready.

“I would love to be in position to win the game,” said Williams, a junior who also plays wide receiver.

Williams kicked field goals of 40 and 22 yards in the first meeting between the teams, when Portland handed Windham its only loss of the season, 12-6 on Oct 11.

Dugas, a senior, has split time between playing on the Eagles’ soccer team and kicking for the football team.

All of Dugas’s field goals have been between 22 and 34 yards this season. But he has the leg to hit one from 45 to 50 should the Eagles need it.

“We have a lot of confidence in Josh,” said Coach Matt Perkins. “If we have situations where it’s fourth-and-2 or fourth-and-3, we’ll go ahead and kick it. He’s obviously a big asset for us.”

Both players took an interest in place-kicking in middle school.

Richard Johnson, a Windham assistant coach, was the eighth-grade coach four years ago. He suggested that Dugas, who kicks with his left leg, give place-kicking a try.

Dugas got his chance to kick for the varsity as a freshman when the regular kicker, Nolan Allen, tore his ACL in the second game. Dugas has kicked field goals each season, highlighted by this breakout performance this fall.

At Portland, Williams was a soccer player who always had wanted to try football. He got permission to play the sport from his mother in the eighth grade.

Williams’ soccer background translated nicely into place-kicking.

Williams has improved each season and works with kicking coach Rocco Navarro, a Portland High graduate and former University of Maine punter.

“John is an outstanding athlete to begin with,” said Coach Jim Hartman. “He works at kicking and Rocco is a great teacher. We have no qualms about putting John in to kick a field goal. He knocks them through from 50 yards in practice.”

Williams said that kicking is 98 percent mental, and it also helps to have a short memory.

Williams missed a PAT in overtime Sept. 26 in a game won by Bangor, 28-27.

“I knew I had missed it as soon as I kicked it,” said Williams. “My body turned to the left on the kick.”

Navarro told him to forget it and move on, but Williams said it took him a couple of weeks to get over it.

In the last week of the regular season, Williams kicked a 34-yard field goal in a 10-6 victory at South Portland.

“That was a huge confidence builder,” he said.

Both Dugas and Williams regularly boom the ball deep on kickoffs. Several of their kicks have reached the end zone.

“John’s kickoffs are high and deep,” said Hartman. “When the opponent has to start from the 20, it’s a long road to the end zone.”

Said Perkins: “Josh has had over 10 kickoffs in the end zone. We have the No. 1-ranked defense in Class A in points allowed. We like our chances when our opponent has to start from the 20 each time.”

Both players want to kick in college. Last summer Dugas attended a couple of kicking academies in Massachusetts. Williams is looking into doing so next summer.

“I play soccer but I’m totally into kicking. It’s my focus now,” said Dugas.

Dugas and Williams said they wouldn’t be as successful without their holders – Tanner Laberge of Windham and Ryan Ruhlin of Portland.

“Tanner and I grew up together. We have good chemistry,” said Dugas. “A lot of things have to happen for a kick to be good. There’s the snap, the hold and then the kick. The line has to block.”

And on occasion a kicker has to make a saving tackle on a kickoff. That happened to Dugas in the last game. Matt Smith of Bonny Eagle broke through and Dugas was the last defender.

Dugas, all 150 pounds, tackled the 225-pound Smith.

“I made sure to hit him low, very low,” said Dugas.