KFHS kicker comes through
Published 8:57 pm Saturday, November 30, 2013
When No. 9 King’s Fork High School took on No. 1 Phoebus High School in a Nov. 22 regional playoff showdown, the Bulldogs’ season came down to the foot of senior kicker Austin Wall.
After a false start thwarted his 37-yard attempt, which went in, he endured the pressure of a second attempt, nailing a 42-yarder to lift the Bulldogs to victory and also earn the title of Duke Automotive-Suffolk News-Herald Player of the Week.
There were four seconds left on the clock and the game was tied, but Wall did not imagine any room for error.
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“I put all the pressure on myself,” he said. “I was like, ‘I’ve got to make this.’”
He said he was nervous but felt relief after the 37-yarder went in.
Then he saw the flag.
“I got real nervous, real fast,” he said. “I didn’t know if I was going to make the second one or not.”
Either way, he would have to try, from five yards farther out. The Phantoms called a timeout, presumably to ice him.
King’s Fork head coach Joe Jones said, “The distance of either one didn’t bother me.” He had seen Wall hit a field goal in warm-ups from 51 yards out.
“I don’t know what it was, but I kicked the second one better than I did the first one,” Wall said.
“He got everything into that last one,” Jones said, also noting that the wind disappeared before each kick, observable as the flags on the uprights dropped straight down.
Once he launched it, Wall knew it was good. “There was no doubt in my mind,” he said.
In addition to this clutch field goal, Wall kicked eight punts during the game, helping give the defense good field position to work with against Phoebus.
Wall first started playing football during his sophomore year. The seed for his future in the sport was planted when Jones spotted him kicking a ball during a physical education class.
“Coach Jones came up to me and asked if I wanted to play football,” Wall said.
His mother, Meredith Wall, was against it, but he ended up trying out later on and making the team. She was not sure if he would like it or not, but it has turned out to be a mutually enjoyable endeavor.
Because of the excitement factor, “She actually likes it more than anything else I’ve ever done,” Wall said.
Wall has made impressive strides in his three years as a kicker, even moving past a convention of many high school counterparts who use a block tee to aid in kicking the ball higher.
College and professional kickers do not use it, and neither, now, does Wall. Mid-way through his junior year, he said, “I kept on kicking the block, and it kept on making me mad.”
He began going without it and found he actually got better height without it.
Aside from playing football, Wall is an experienced wrestler and soccer player. He said his favorite changes by the season.
He has only given limited thought to hitting the gridiron in college.
“If the opportunity was to come, then I would take it, but as of right now, I plan on going to college, and maybe depending on the school, I’d probably walk on or something,” he said.
Each of the sports he plays has a perk, and he highlighted the team element as the fundamental one in football, serving as his drive in moments like the one he experienced on Nov. 22.
“Me being a kicker, I know that my teammates rely on me to pick up those points when my offense can’t produce a six,” he said.