Field Goal Punts?
Did you know that a field goal attempt is treated just like a punt under both Federation and NCAA High School Rules? If the ball goes out of bounds or is downed by the punting team, the opponent takes the ball over at that point. There are a handful of High Schools, including Dr. John Wards Union, North Carolina team that Field Goal kicks on every fourth down, no matter if he is on his own 20 or the opponents 45 yard line.
Many coaches feel their field goal kicker, when kicking for direction is much more accurate than a punter. Dr Ward prefers to have his field goal kickers kick out of bounds every play on their �field goal punts�. His teams are usually less athletic and low in numbers, so he feels this saves them some wear and tear while keeping the ball away from the other teams playmakers. He also feels that he doesn�t have to worry about a punter having a kick go off the side of his foot, that his field goal kickers are much less apt to �shank� kicks. Dr Ward has an incredible record at the High School level, leading dramatic turnarounds at a number of downtrodden High Schools. When he does something out of the norm, I for one listen.
In youth football this poses an even more interesting scenario:
Many youth football leagues have special rules of extra points and field goals. In some youth football leagues, including the one my personal teams are in now, do not allow the defense to rush on field goal attempts or point after kicks. We also have an �automatic� punt of 35 yards for the age 7-9 kids, with the exemption that you can not pin your opponent inside his own 20 yard line when accepting the automatic punt.
In 2005 we had a pretty good kicker that made about 65% of his extra point kicks. He was fairly accurate but had a bit of a problem with getting enough height on each kick. In one game we faced a 4th and 5, at the opponents 40 yard line. In most cases I would probably run a �no play� football play and get the other team to jump the snap to get my 5 free yards and a first down. We also have lots of 5 yard football plays in the playbook, but we decided to kick a �field goal�. The opponent couldn�t figure out what we were doing from the 40, they were completely confused, as a 40 yard field goal in youth football is absurd. But had we gone with the automatic punt, the ball by rule can not be placed inside the 20, so the net gain would have been just 20 yards. My �field goal� kicker kicked the ball about 25 yards from the line of scrimmage in the air and it rolled another 10 yards to just inside the 5 yard line. Since the other team did not have a return man back, (fake field goals are not allowed) we just downed the ball and they took over on the 5 yard line.
If you are past the midpoint of your youth football season and your kids have the basics down, maybe it�s time to experiment with some special teams nuances. For us that means a trick kick off return and an additional onside kick to go along with our �field goal� punt. Doing things like this may help you keep the kids interested as their attention spans often start to wane midseason. It may also help you gain a competitive advantage and have some fun.
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