the study of the kicking components within sports

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Drop Kicks, part 2

Doug Flutie’s extra point on January 1, 2006 was the first drop kick the NFL had seen in 65 years. Nonetheless, drop kicks could still be found in pro football the past decade or so, if one turned their attention elsewhere – to the smaller indoor venues. Our story now goes back to August 1, 2000 when kicker Jef Wood entered the drop kick record book.

After kicking in college at Walla Walla Community College and Western Oregon University, several years in the semi-pros, and a brief stint with the Portland Prowlers (IPFL), Jef landed with the Carolina Rhinos of the af2. The prequel to August 1st occurred one week earlier, which he recently recounted for us:
“It was the end of the 4th quarter, we were ahead a little, and we had just scored our last touch down in our round one playoff game against the Pensacola Barracudas. My coach Ernest Wilson sent me in to kick a PAT. As I was setting up he yelled to the holder and said for me to drop kick it, so I stepped back five more yards into a punt formation got the snap and drilled it through. It felt natural and effortless like I had done it a million times. Well I did practice it a million times, just never did it in a game until then.”
The Rhinos won the game and advanced to the quarter-finals:
“The next week came and we got to play against the Augusta Stallions. This game was a battle. Just before the half ended there was about five seconds left in the half and Coach Wilson sent me on to kick a 46 yard field goal. As I was setting up he yelled to me, just like in the previous game, "DROP KICK IT WOOD!! :) ya I smiled. My heart leapt to my throat… I had never drop kicked this long of a kick in any game ever. So I dropped back five and just like the week before and mentally set up just like any kick. I got the snap, took my steps, dropped the ball staying true to my target line and BOOM!, the kick was up and it was gooood! 46 yards out and there was enough height and power behind the kick everyone said it would have been good from 60 easy!”
That 46 yarder remains the longest drop kick in AFL history. Jef “It’s All Good” Wood concluded his football career the following year with the Macon Knights. Their game against the Tallahassee Thunder that year was of special interest to drop kick aficionados:
“They had a really good drop kicker too [Phil Setterquist]. My coach Chris Sigfried suggested I mentally prepare for this game because I would be going up against the leagues other only drop kicker. ‘Put on a show’ he said, so I went into a state of Zen like meditation. When game time came I felt ready. This was a very good game. Every time they scored the Thunder kicker drop kicked. We would score and I would answer back with my dropkick. We lost, but I didn't miss a kick; I put on a show. Another [game] I will never forget… how many guys do you get to see showcase their drop kick talents in the same game.”
While two-point conversions via drop kick have been more common in indoor football, the even more lucrative four-point field goal also occasionally appears. The most recent occurred on May 12, 2007, when Carlos Ojeda hit a 21 yarder for the Alaska Wild against the Corpus Christi Hammerheads in the Intense Football League.

But that is not the end of our story. Drop kicking is still alive today in indoor football, courtesy of a rather unusual kicker. Scott Duvall is the opposite of current typical kickers in many aspects - he prefers drop kicking to placekicking; he's a lefty rather than right-footed, and he kicks straight-on rather than soccer style. He's also a few years older than your average pro kicker:
"I’m a little unusual player in the league… I’m 56 years old for one thing. I came out of a 24 year retirement playing semi-pro. I was aware of the indoor game, but I wasn’t aware of the point difference in the rule book for drop kicking. It’s two points for drop kicking and its four points for a field goal if done by drop kick. That’s something I used to do as a hobby, but never really put it to the test. It was intriguing to me to get into it to try to see if it could be done. It had been done in the af2, but was never done in the CIFL. I wound up doing it and setting the record in the league for the first time. I did it against the Chicago Slaughter in 2009. The drop kicking end of it is what drew me into trying out for teams in the Continental Indoor Football League."
Duvall's CIFL first drop kick occurred back on May 22, 2009 when he played for the Milwaukee Bonecrushers. He remains in the league this year, but now plays for the Indianapolis Enforcers.
"This year, since I signed with the Indianapolis Enforcers, I want to contribute to that team by maybe getting the first field goal, because that’s never been done [in the CIFL].... It’s difficult signing a 56 year old. They don’t think you can make it though a long schedule. They’re probably a little apprehensive because of my age. I’m happy that Indianapolis sees the value in it. A lot of teams in the league don’t put much value in kicking. When you can kick two-pointers in lieu of one-pointers, and you score as much as you do indoors, it can make a huge difference by the end of the game. They all add up. Indianapolis has seen the value in it, so their willing to take a chance at it."
With drop kicking still lingering in the indoor game, could it ever see a revival in the NFL? Scott weighed in on the possibility:
"I’d like to try it in the NFL, but that’s a little bit tall. If the point system was there it would be a worthwhile venture. Get these kids learning how to do drop kicking. I always thought it would do two things: it would bring back the old-fashioned kicking and it would give another aspect to the kicking game. Are they gonna drop kick it? Are they gonna go for one point or go for two points. If they would align the scoring system with this indoor, where it’s in every indoor football league’s rules that if you drop kick it is two points and four points if you drop kick a field goal, it would give it credence. It would give it worthiness, ‘why don’t we try it’."
When Scott eventually goes back into retirement, will that be the end of drop kicking? The answer is no. The next generation of kickers is keeping the drop alive. Just the other year at the high school level in Canton Oklahoma, kicker Coby Moody successfully drop kicked several PATs and field goals.

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