is only 26 yards away. Senior kicker Jimmy Stevens of Heritage Hall (Oklahoma
City) stood on the middle hash mark last Friday in the second quarter of a home
game against Bethel ( Shawnee, Okla.) and surveyed the goalposts from that
distance. It was not just another kick coming up--Stevens had made 48 field
goals in his high school career and stood tied with two other kickers for the
most ever--but it was another kick that had to be executed with precision. A
few seconds later the ball spun through the uprights, and Stevens was alone at
the top. "It was a real easy shot," he says. "I just concentrated
on keeping my head down and following through."
started kicking in eighth grade, is, like many kickers, meticulous about his
stats. "I was 8 of 11 in my freshman year, 10 of 13 in my sophomore year,
22 of 29 in my junior year and 10 of 22 so far this year," he says. He is
also superstitious. He has worn the same white socks over his cleats every game
for four years.
Though his field
goal rate slipped to 45% this year, Stevens says the figure is misleading.
"Anywhere around the 50 yard-line the coach has me try a field goal. Seven
of those misses have been from 50-plus yards and two from over 60." Stevens
kicks so often partly because in high school a kick that reaches the end zone
is a touchback, which could be better than a punt.
Next year at
Oklahoma he must learn how to placekick off the ground and transition from a
two-inch tee for kickoffs to a one-inch college tee. But Chris Sailer, a coach
who ranked Stevens 10th out of 600 kickers at his National Kicking Competition
in Las Vegas last year, says Stevens will be fine. "He is one of the most
mechanically sound high school kickers I have ever worked with."
Stevens also nailed a 52-yard field goal, his career best. But with nine
seconds left, he missed a 31-yarder, and Bethel won 14--13. "I had a great
night," says Stevens, whose parents, Jim, an oil-drilling speculator, and
Colleen, an insurance-sales officer, met him on the field after the
record-breaker. "But I made it a little bad by trying to kick that [last]
ball too hard." He'll have a chance for redemption when the Chargers face
Watonga ( Okla.) High this Friday in the first round of the playoffs.