Kicking may not be exactly the same as riding a bike, but once Haslet Eaton’s Rhett Marshall learned to kick four years ago, he was able to pick up where he left off this season.
Marshall began kicking in seventh grade when he talked with his parents about his desire to give it a shot.
He tried it, liked it, and an apparent natural ability fueled his desire to commit to kicking.
But an injury in his freshman year prevented Marshall from kicking again until this, his junior year, and Marshall is on his way to having a good season.
A 35-yard field goal is the farthest Marshall has hit this year, but he said he’s capable of more.
In practice, Marshall said he’s hit from 55 yards. He tried from 60, but that isn’t quite in his range.
Granted, it was in practice, and Marshall knows getting a rushed snap, hold and needed blocking is all included in game-time conditions.
His strength, though, may be his ability to put the ball into the end zone on kickoffs.
“It’s all about making contact with the ball,” Marshall said. “Ninety percent of kicking is how the ball comes off your foot.”
Marshall said size doesn’t have as much to do with getting distance on a ball, but he does hope to add to his 5-9, 160-pound frame.
He also said most kickers prefer using a soccer shoe to better get under the ball.
To help make sure his technique was on point, Marshall said he spent the summer attending kicking camps at Oklahoma and TCU.
“I went to a lot of camps and learned quite a bit and it’s helped make this a successful this year,” Marshall said.
It was at the TCU camp that Marshall made the connection with former Horned Frog and Jacksonville Jaguars kicker Jaden Oberkrom.
Marshall now uses Oberkrom as his personal kicking coach.
The left-footed kicker said that with his specialized training and experience, he also focuses on other collegiate and pro kickers to see what they do correctly and incorrectly.
“I pay attention and watch why it went left,” he said, noting that left-footed kickers can send the ball left by a shoulder shrug or go to the right with a bad plant foot.
Despite all the pressures sometimes levied on kickers, Marshall doesn’t seem to be overly burdened by the scrutiny.
“I have just one thing to do and that’s kick,” he said. “Every kick matters just as much as the next one. It’s another kick.”
Many kickers lean on superstitions to cope with the pressure. Not so for Marshall, though.
“I run out there and just think about making sure all my steps are always the same,” Marshall said. “My stance is the exact same. I focus on my form and nothing changes. That’s my routine.”
All the work and routine is for adding to the bottom line of the Eagles’ first varsity season. It’s an honor which Marshall and his teammates accept with responsibility.
“Honestly, it’s a blessing to be a part of it,” Marshall said of being the first varsity team in the young school’s history. “We get to set the traditions for the next years and the future. We set the culture and environment for students in the future.”