Just for Kicks Soccer Players Cross over to Join Their Football Brethren

By White, Mike | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), October 6, 2017 | Go to article overview

Just for Kicks Soccer Players Cross over to Join Their Football Brethren


White, Mike, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


Word of Nick Morrow's leg spread quickly. He was a freshman going through an October gym class on the football field at Moon High School three years ago, when a few classmates decided to try their luck at field goals. A longtime soccer player, Morrow decided to join in - without a shoe or sock on his right foot. He started booming field goals, surprising even himself and making one from 50 yards.

Five minutes after gym class concluded, Morrow got a text message on his phone from a Moon football assistant coach. "Would you ever think about kicking for the football team?"

A year later, Morrow was Moon's starting kicker, with shoes and socks on both feet. Now a senior, Morrow puts his best foot forward as one of the top kickers in the WPIAL. And he still plays soccer.

The funny tale of how Morrow became a kicker certainly is unusual. But Morrow's crossover move into football is a story that is being played out all over high school football these days. More than ever before, it seems kids are getting their kicks in two sports - football and soccer. And some of these soccer players make for excellent kickers.

"It makes sense. I mean, it's what soccer players do - kick," said Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane. "No doubt, they're better than most football players."

Ruane has one of the better soccer players/football kickers in the WPIAL. Nick Tarabrella, a senior, is a starter on Penn-Trafford's soccer team. He has 15 career field goals in football and needs one more to break the school record.

But there is more evidence to show many more athletes are into crossfit - for soccer and football kicking.

* Seventeen kickers in the WPIAL have three field goals or more. About one-third of them are soccer players.

* Three players are tied for the WPIAL lead in field goals with six. Two of them are soccer players - Morrow and Latrobe's Nate Clair.

* Of the top 17 goal scorers in WPIAL boys soccer, five of them are kickers for the football team. They are Freedom's Carson Gilarno, Quaker Valley's Landon Grant, Norwin's Carter Breen, Central Valley's Brandon Jugan and Monessen's Cory Fleming.

* A handful of girl soccer players also are kickers on football teams. One of them is Hopewell's Samantha Hysong, who has made three field goals this season, including one game-winner.

It needs to be pointed out that not every WPIAL team's kicker is a soccer player. Maybe not even half. And there are some kickers who are among the best around and don't play soccer. Kicking footballs is their only craft. But the soccer revolution has had a positive effect on high school football teams, especially in recent years. Look at teams such as Aliquippa and Clairton, which have even struggled kicking extra points in many seasons. They don't have soccer teams.

At Moon, Ryan Linn is in his first year as football coach. He was a first-year assistant two years ago when Morrow came aboard as a sophomore.

"I remember it was the first day of heat acclimation practices in August and here comes Nick walking through the door," said Linn. …

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