Calem “Cal” Sutherland of the Keller Central football team is following the long line of area kickers making a name for themselves.
At Central, though, his still-noticeable Scottish accent stands out. Well, his accent and his kicking stats.
After moving to the U.S. when he was eight years old, Sutherland parlayed his early upbringing in the game of soccer to the gridiron.
Through four games, Sutherland has been perfect in his field goal and extra point attempts – since last year. This year, he has kicked four field goals and 13 PATs.
Last season, Sutherland hit three field goals and all 18 PATs.
Although he also plays soccer for the Chargers, football seems to be where he feels most at ease.
“I’ve been playing soccer all my life, so it came natural to me,” Sutherland said, “but I love being on a team and they (the football players) took me in like family. I just love kicking the ball through the uprights and I have the respect of my teammates.”
Sutherland said he was encouraged to kick when he was at Hillwood Middle School by Mike Stitt.
“It gives me a great feeling to kick and it seemed being on the football team was the cool thing to do,” Sutherland said.
Becoming an accurate kicker from 40 yards out was cool for the team, too.
His longest kick in a game is 41 yards, but Sutherland said he hit one from 63 yards in practice.
With a wind, Sutherland is confident he could kick 45- to 50-yard field goals.
After adding 15 pounds since last season to his 5-9 frame, Sutherland is better equipped to add distance to his kicks.
That type of range gives options to the Chargers offense and head coach Bart Helsley.
The senior kicker is also handling the punting duties for the Chargers and is averaging over 30 yards per punt. He has a 64-yard punt to his credit as his longest.
Helsley often gives Sutherland assistance in his punting, talking to him about technique and working on specific drills.
Sutherland may have empathy from Helsley, who once punted for North Texas.
Helsley, at one time, was tied for the longest punt in North Texas history when he booted a 91-yard punt in 1990.
In 1996, Helsley was surpassed by former Dallas Cowboys and UNT alum Toby Gowin when he booted a 92-yard punt.
Although Sutherland said his punting is secondary to his placekicking abilities, he also takes pride in kickoffs for touchbacks.
With hopes of kicking at the next level, Sutherland also works with former Oklahoma and Washington Redskins kicker Scott Blanton.
That additional coaching has Sutherland saying that he’s “found my niche.”
Along with the expected ribbing from his teammates about having it easy in practices as a kicker, Sutherland takes the game-time pressures in stride.
The ability to manage pressure from a “young senior” – Sutherland is just 16 and won’t hit 17 until next month – is even more admirable.
“It’s definitely different in games, but I think I handle it pretty well,” he said. “I like being under pressure. I usually compare it to a penalty kick in soccer.”
The pressure, he said, comes not just from the defense charging at him but having to keep all the elements of proper technique in mind in the few seconds he has from the snap until making contact with the ball.
“If one little thing goes wrong, like hitting it at a low angle, anything could happen,” Sutherland said. “It’s mental and technique.”