Our series exploring the longest field goals at the high school level in each state continues with West Virginia.
- 55 John Hogshead in Nitro High's loss to Poca in 1975:
The Wildcat specialist boomed a kick for a [then] state record only five yards shy of the national high school record. That field goal tied Hogshead for the state record for career field goals at nine. But it wasn't too long ago that the field goal was a rare occurrence in a high school football game. Going back five to 10 years few schools even bothered to kick extra points. According to Daily Mail records there was only one successful field goal in the KVC in 1955, that by Dieter Garrett of Dunbar. In 1965 there were two by Jim Fout of DuPont and Danny Curry of St Albans. More recently there were only two made in 1972 and five in 71. In 1970 the total was zero. The field goal boom began locally in 1973 with the emergence of specialists like Paul Engle of East Bank and Eddie Hamrick of Herbert Hoover. There was a total of 11 that season with Engle having four. Then last year the total ballooned to 15. Hogshead and Mike Cherry of St. Albans booted five each and Engle had three. This season the field goal beat goes on. In just four weeks of play already 10 have been made by five different kickers. Second behind Hogshead is South Charleston's Mark Lyons with three in addition to 11 extra points. He's the top scorer overall with 20 points while Hogshead has 18.
Probably the biggest reason for the increase in field goals is the impact of televised football according to a sampling of KVC coaches. The first field goals I saw were in professional recalled Nitro coach Pat Vance. A lot of boys have worked on kicking on their own. John Hogshead has been kicking since the eighth grade and the junior high here has another good one coming up. 'John's the best', Vance stated, 'Anytime we're on the 40 or closer in we don't hesitate to use him if we're stopped. He's kicked from 60 yards in practice and the the other day was at the top of the posts when it crossed. We'll use him in place of a punt a lot of times.' According to Dunbar's Delmar Good Kids are beginning to work on kicking more. They see the pro games and will work on their own then a coach can help them. You have to have a kid who's pretty dedicated and wants to spend extra time working on kicking. Charleston High coach Frank Vincent says there's more to it than TV. The one obvious reason is that kids are working on it now more than ever he said. Second, most of those who have been kicking recently are specialists, unlike Larry Green who also plays linebacker and offensive tackle for us. Another thing is that coaches don't want to end up in a tie game. They want to have the field goal ready to use in overtime.
- 55 Craig Williams of Fayetteville vs. Midland Trail in 1999
In a regular season game against Midland Trail, Fayetteville's Craig Williams broke records with a 55-yard field goal, the longest in the state this year. Last week, he broke his leg. Williams broke his left plant leg in gym class last week and had surgery Monday, and is lost for the year, said Coach Frank Spangler. Williams, who made his long kick against Midland Trail on Oct. 8, was also a tight end in the Pirates' wishbone formations.
- 59 Corey Smith in Musselman High's 20-13 win over Central-Woodstock on 09/14/2007
Smith split the uprights with a 47-yarder in the second quarter, a feat rarely seen at the high school level in this area, to be sure. He topped himself and every other high school kicker in West Virginia history when he nailed a 59-yard field goal on a free kick less than a minute before halftime of the Applemen's 20-13 win over Central. Smith shattered the previous state record of 55 yards, which was set by Nitro's John Hogshead in 1975 and tied by Fayetteville's Craig Williams in 1999. The field goal came after Musselman's Ethan French made a fair catch on a punt at the Woodstock 49-yard line. With rain falling and Musselman without any timeouts, the Applemen decided to employ a little-used rule allowing for a free kick, in which the ball is either punted or placed on a tee for a kick. Smith put the ball on the tee and didn't have to worry about an onrushing opponent, only the words of his coach. When Musselman coach Denny Price was asked if he recalled what he said to Smith, Price said, "Yeah. 'Make the field goal.' "It definitely was in his range," Price said. "It was raining a little bit, but he's got a tremendously strong leg."
- We checked in with Smith, while he was kicking for the West Virginia Mountaineers, and picked his memory on the events:
"The first thing that was going through my mind was confusion honestly. We had been trying to use this kick since my sophomore year, but had not been able to use it, therefore I did not really know how it worked. Did the field goal team go out on the field or what? There was a little confusion until we learned that the kickoff team would be put out. The field was wet from rain, so that presented another obstacle to overcome. I found a good spot that would allow me a firm plant and set my tee. Since I was not given the ball prior to the ready for play whistle, I had to tee it and take my steps rather quickly as opposed to normal. I took my steps and then a beep breath and thought just keep a good target line and make solid contact off my foot. I took my approach and made a good swing making sure to drive the ball slightly to avoid slapping the ball and getting under it too much. After my foot hit the ball I knew it was good even before I looked up. I did not have to take a very hard swing either because I trusted my leg and form so much.
I did not even think until half time, that it would have been a state record. I thought it was interesting how widespread the news was. I had numerous people tell me that they saw it in papers from all around even outside of the state. I had no idea that that would not even be my only attempt from 50+ yards either. I went 3 of 3 from 50+ on the year with one in the following game. I did not know how to top that performance for the next week leading up but as I said I hit a 50 yarder in that next game en route of going 4 of 4 on field goals with one to win the game as time expired. I had actually, in my mind, topped that performance from the week before (59 yarder).
The entire season for me was good. In the next to last game of the year I broke the state record, also for most field goals in a season. That record was broken last year I believe, but I think the 59 yarder will have to be another perfect scenario in order for it to fall."