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Alcoa’s Smith making a run at Mr. Football kicker

Tornado senior Ben Smith knocks through an extra point out of Cameron Woody’s hold earlier this season. Photo by Cindy Nowlin

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

Forty-three yards is a pretty good lick for a high school kicker.

Ben Smith put a field goal through the uprights from that distance Friday night at Heritage like he was working with a pitching wedge.

It looked like an extra point.

The Alcoa senior also had one from 40 in a 41-14 win, but neither kick is why we named Smith the Barley’s/Blount Press Row Player of the Week.

The No. 1-ranked Tornadoes kicked off eight times in the game. Smith put all eight kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks, all but three of them 7, 8 yards deep. The wind streamers atop the uprights were dead calm.

“I told him after the game it was the best performance I’ve seen by an Alcoa kicker in the 11 years I’ve been here,” Tornado coach Gary Rankin said. “It was impressive.”

Smith has come a long way from a soccer player who first tried football place-kicking only a year ago. By season’s end, the 5-foot-8, 150-pound Smith was among the state’s best, earning All-State selection after making good on 69 of 70 PATs and 10 of 12 field goals, with a long of 41 yards.

“He’s so much better this year,” Rankin said.

The PATs — 29-of-29 — and field goals — 4-for-4 with three from 40-plus — are still money, but, as evidenced by his performance at Heritage, it’s what Smith is doing on kickoffs that’s likely to get him noticed by college recruiters and make him a worthy candidate for Mr. Football Kicker of the Year at season’s end.

Of Alcoa’s 38 kickoffs this season, Big Ben has put 27 of them into the end zone for touchbacks.

It’s easier to play defense when you know the other team has to go 80 yards to score.

As mentioned, Smith didn’t reach full leg extension on either of his field goals Friday. He’s hit from 47 this season.

Makes you wonder what he’s got in that leg if he pulls out the driver?

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