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Smith soars from 45
Eagles, record-setting kicker face Alcovy
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The Jackson defender came barreling around the left side of the offensive line, and his gloved hand just met Colton Smith's attempt from 40 yards out spoiling a big field goal for the Eastside place kicker, and keeping the Eagles from putting points on the board last Friday night.

Smith walked over to the Eastside sideline, grabbed a cup of water, allowed the image to linger in his mind for one more second and then moved on.

Later in the same game, Eastside coach Rick Hurst called upon Smith again, this time for a 45-yard attempt. Not only was this kick longer than his previous try, but it was also longer than any other Eastside kicker has ever made.

Smith stepped up to the challenge, remembering the techniques he has been working on since the eighth grade. The senior ran up to the ball, stepped up to it, kick through it and watched as Eastside scored its first three points and he entered the Eagles' record books.

"My line did great," Smith said. "They were fantastic all night. I also got confidence from coach Hurst that he was able to send me out from 45."

When Eastside got within the 40-yard line, Hurst knew he would send his kicker out on fourth down with a win-win situation. Either Smith would make the kick, which he did, or thanks to high school football rules if he made it to the end zone, which Hurst knew he was capable of, Jackson would take over at the 20.

"It's kind of hard to down a punt inside the 20," Hurst said. "So we would pin them back or get the three points; it's always a plus no matter which way you go."

Of course Smith got the three points, and it helped Eastside start a big rally.

"It was huge," Hurst said. "It got us off the schneid. We got some much needed three points. He hit it well, a little low, but I think if he would have gotten under it much more, it wouldn't have carried.

"It was a good kick."

Smith routinely hits kicks from 50 yards during practices but has never been called on for such a lengthy kick during a game. When Hurst came over to him Friday night, he was ready.

It's been four years of Smith getting ready for this opportunity since he tried place kicking with his father. Smith had played soccer up through his eighth-grade year, when he thought that he could give place kicking a shot.

"I thought ‘I can kick, let's see if I can kick a football,'" Smith said. "I was good at it and just found a love for football and kicking and everything that goes with it."

From that point on he dropped soccer, focusing entirely on football, and not wanting to risk another injury such as the concussion he suffered on the soccer field (his thinking was place kickers are more protected with helmet and pads).

His switch to a full-time football player has not only brought him Eastside's longest-ever kick but also a game winner over Jackson last year with 2.3 seconds left. That kick still holds as his best moment with Friday's kick a close second.

Also Smith's football playing has helped lead to collegiate opportunities with teams from Division I through Division III approaching him to kick for them after he graduates.

Smith may be called on today as Eastside faces inter-county rivals Alcovy at 7:30 p.m. at Sharp Stadium.

When Hurst goes to his special teams' unit today, he is hoping it is improved from Eastside's previous game when it had an extra point and a field goal blocked.

"We fixed it," Hurst said. "The guys understand that it's a big part of the game."

Eastside has also been working on adding consistency to its offense, which has shifted to no-huddle in the first two games. The offense has been working as Eastside scored a combined 55 points in its first two games, but there are still some kinks being worked out with tempo.

"When you go three-and-out in a conventional offense it takes time off the clock, when you go three-and-out in hurry-up, it seems like it was one play and you're out," Hurst said. "That's the thing we have to do is continue to be patient and get something going."