BY DOUG GORMAN
Special teams plays can go a long way in making or breaking a football game.
Place kickers and punters often face a ton of pressure when it comes to kicking the football through the uprights or putting the ball deep into the opponent’s territory on kickoffs and punts.
This season, Northgate’s Kade Loggins has given the Vikings’ a special team’s weapon.
The senior kicker and punter has come up big in some pressure situations.
The biggest was Friday night when he booted a 39-yard field goal for the Vikings to give them a 24-23 lead that stood up the rest of the way.
“I just had to lock in,” Loggins said. “I have had to mentally get myself prepared. It has helped me a lot this year.”
Despite the 44-17 loss to Newnan to open the season, he also accounted for three of the Vikings’ points in the season opener, booting a 42-yarder against the Cougars on the road at Drake Stadium.
Loggins won the kicking job in a competitive battle during the preseason, beating out Dalton McGowen and Hairm Echalar.
All three kicked field goals in the team’s preseason scrimmage, giving first-year head coach Mike McDonald confidence in the kicking game.
“There is not a whole lot of separation right now,” said McDonald. “Kade has done a great job kicking and punting the ball. He put the one ball in the end zone on the kickoff and the rest were down there about the 5-yard line.”
Loggins has played football since he was eight years old, but didn’t start experimenting with the kicking aspects of the game until he was in eighth grade.
But even though he played at Madras Middle School, he still didn’t kick in a game until he got to Northgate.
Loggins honed his kicking skills by attending camps in the summer.
He is quick to point out he is inspired by former Northgate place kicker Will Lutz who is getting ready to enter his third season with the New Orleans Saints.
Lutz was signed as a free agent after attending Georgia State by the Carolina Panthers.
After getting cut in camp, he was signed by the Saints three years ago.
Lutz kicked a 53-field goal his rookie season and a 57-yarder last year. On kickoffs, Lutz has put the ball into the end zone for touchbacks 107 times.
“He is great,” Loggins said. “I would love to wear is No. 3 jersey someday.”
One of the toughest things for Loggins to do is stay focused. He is called on to handle all three aspects of the kicking game for the Vikings, including place kicking, kickoffs and punting.
A couple of times against Starr’s Mill, he was backed up deep in his own territory and still booted the ball deep.
“In punting you have to change field possession and get the ball off quickly. It was kind of hard tonight [Friday] because they were bringing pressure and I had to get it off fast,” Loggins said.