CARTHAGE — With Carthage leading Maine-Endwell 49-28 late in the fourth quarter, coach Jason Coffman called for his kicker.
Casey Farrell, a top kicker in the region, jogged onto the turf field at the Carrier Dome and assumed his position, ready to attempt a 46-yard field goal.
He was not thinking about the distance, but he was most certainly thinking.
“I’m aware [of the distance] I just tell myself that it’s the same kick as an extra point,” Farrell said. “It’s all a part of staying consistent.”
The ball was snapped and placed by Nick Cavellier as Farrell approached from an angle. Keeping his eyes up, he swung his right leg through the ball and sent it tumbling, end-over-end, between the uprights.
The result was essentially three meaningless points in a game Carthage had all but won, but for the senior it was a personal record. He had never hit a 46-yarder in a game before.
Not only was the distance an accomplishment, it capped off a perfect game on his end — he went 7-for-7 in extra points before nailing the field goal.
For Farrell he again conquered any kicker’s greatest enemy, his own mind.
“It’s easy for kickers to get in their own heads, that’s why most of them miss when they do,” Farrell said. “You just have to think that it’s the same kick every time no matter the distance.”
Shortly after, the fourth quarter came to an end and the Comets went to the locker room having won their opener, 52-28. While his teammates took the hourlong trek north on I-81 back to Carthage, Farrell headed in the opposite direction. He was expected in Pittsburgh on Sunday for a camp hosted by Hammer Kicking Academy, a program Farrell has been a part of since his sophomore year.
There he met up with kicking coach Adam Tanalski along with other high school kickers throughout the country. These camps are always exciting, not only does he get to work on his kicking but he gets to display his skills for college coaches to get a glimpse of either in person or via social media.
It’s also a chance to catch up with friends he rarely sees. They talk about the usual: school, sports, recruiting, but it’s also an opportunity to talk about kicking — a topic that’s not easy to discuss with non-kickers.
“You have to go into detail every single time to make people understand it, so it’s hard to explain,” Farrell said.
Kickers are different, their position is unlike any other and, in some cases, there is only one per high school roster.
Many players think they can kick, only for them to ultimately fail, something Farrell gets a kick out of — no pun intended.
“I see linemen all the time trying to kick it and it’s pretty embarrassing,” Farrell said.
Since they are unique in the sport, kickers often have the reputation of being quirky or an odball on the team.
“I try to avoid that stereotype,” Farrell said. “I don’t want to be like that loner guy who just kicks footballs.”
He jokes with his teammates and is as much a member of the Comets as any other player on the team, even if he only sees a few minutes of playing time each week.
Ultimately, much of what Farrell does to train is on his own. Before practice starts, he grabs a few balls, sets up his holder and practices nailing field goals from a range of distances. There’s not too much coaches or teammates can do to help. Even if they wanted to, no one on the Comets knows kicking like Farrell.
“The one thing that [former head coach] Sam [Millich] and I were really good about the last couple of years is just helping Casey get out of his own head,” Coffman said. “When he overthought stuff is when he had trouble. He’s gone to so many kicking camps and has worked with so many people, I don’t have a whole lot more extra to give him. I ask him and make sure his leg is not sore, I make sure he gets the reps in practice. We do work on it as a group but individually, he knows what he has to do and he does it.”
“Kickers are their own breed, man.”
Farrell has put countless hours into improving his craft, but it’s not always so easy. Living in the north country, being able to practice outdoors becomes virtually impossible come November.
As a result, Farrell drives to Buffalo every other weekend to work with Tanalski at the Bills’ indoor facility.
He’s also leaned on Tanalski and Hammer Kicking Academy to navigate the tricky college football recruiting process. Unlike other positions, college football coaches keep very few kickers on the roster, making the yearly recruiting process even more selective.
For example, of Syracuse’s 108 rostered football players, they list four as punters/kickers.
Farrell’s trips to Buffalo are less frequent during the season, he’s focused on Carthage.
While his 46-yard kick didn’t matter much in how it affected the outcome, it was another example of the type of weapon Coffman has at his disposal.
“He made a 38-yarder last year against Whitesboro in the sectional semis and he made that look easy,” Coffman said. “I’m confident Casey can make it from anywhere. The object is still to score touchdowns, but at the same time, if we’re in a situation like we were the other day, if we give him the opportunity, he’ll make the most of it.”