January 22, 2019

Times-Georgian Profiles Brave Kickers

Article written by Corey Cusick / The Times-Georgian

(Franklin) — The old adage that if you have two starting quarterbacks, you don’t have one can somewhat apply to what Tim Barron is experiencing in his kicking game this fall.

It’s a problem — albeit a good one — the Heard County High School head football coach has never dealt with before, and the evaluation period for finalizing the starting role winds down this week when the Braves travel to Macon County on Friday night at 7:30 for the last non-region contest of the regular season.

The HC coaching staff has charted both senior Collin Nutt and junior Trey Wiggins on a week-by-week basis to establish who is going to serve as the primary kicker for the Region 5-AA schedule and beyond.

“Those guys have done well. I think both of them have been extremely consistent. This is the first time in the history since I’ve been here we’ve had two kickers that I feel would start for most programs. So we’ve charted everything. We’ve charted punts each week. They’ve competed every week for who’s going to punt, who’s going to kick and who’s doing PAT and who’s going to do field goals,” Barron said.

Wiggins has handled a little more of the place-kicking and kickoff duties so far this season, but Nutt is also getting his opportunities and the duo is sharing punting responsibilities.

Senior Collin Nutt (L) and  junior Trey Wiggins (R) (Photo: Corey Cusick/Times-Georgian)

Senior Collin Nutt (L) and junior Trey Wiggins (Photo: Corey Cusick/Times-Georgian)

Both kickers believe the competition is a healthy one that not only makes each other better, but the team, as well.

“We compete every kick, so it just gives us a little more competition. Neither one of us is guaranteed a job every week, so we have to work for it,” Wiggins said.

Nutt agreed that it’s been a steady process of battling in practice and on Friday nights to be at your best and do your job for the team.

“I think we’re going to be better than we’ve ever been this year because we have two very good kickers,” Nutt said of the kicking game. “I think it helps us both try to become a lot better. I think we’re both getting better, slowly but surely.”

As for the rest of the special teams unit, Barron noted how Michael Cadwell has been a bright spot at snapper and Trey Alford is also an interesting story upon becoming the team’s holder.

Alford was originally expected to serve as the backup quarterback and play in the secondary defensively, but a back injury sidelined him from being able to take the field in either role. Alford still had an itch to help his team in some form, which developed into taking over holder duties — with some limitations from the coaching staff.

“We just keep him out of every contact we can. We tell him if something bad happens, just get out of the way,” Barron said. “I’m just thankful the kid wants to be a part of the program. To come out here everyday and do that, it’s nice.”

Another strength of Heard County’s special teams has been its kickoff coverage and kickoff return teams, with Wiggins handling most kickoffs.

“He’s getting a lot of air under it, which gives us time to cover it. He’s generally putting it around the five. I think last week we had five or six where we pinned them inside the 25. Anytime you can make a high school offensive team have to drive it 75, 80 yards or sometimes even more than that, that helps you so much defensively,” Barron said.

“Then they’ve done a great job of putting us in great field position. Austin Miller’s had some good returns, Jaden Moreland’s had good returns. The guys up front are getting a hat on people. So that’s been good for us.”

The kickoff coverage and return game will be key this week against the Bulldogs (2-2), as it will be imperative to pin Macon County’s high-powered offense deep and when the Braves have the ball to sustain drives and be able to rest the defense.

The Bulldogs, who are under the direction of first-year head coach Dexter Copeland, are averaging 41.25 points per game. Even in their lowest offensive output of the season in last week’s 57-32 loss to No. 2 Fitzgerald, the Bulldogs still had more than 100 offensive snaps and 600 yards of total offense.

The Braves and Bulldogs share one common opponent in the Purple Hurricanes, who beat HC in the season opener by a 29-7 count at Mercer University on Aug. 29.

Barron said the major difference between then and now is the onslaught of injuries his roster has suffered, making Friday’s task even tougher.

“Because of where our injury situation is and where we’re at right now, this will be our biggest challenge of the year,” Barron said. “We went into Fitzgerald healthy. Obviously, Fitzgerald is an outstanding program, but where we’re at now, health-wise, compared to where we were at Fitzgerald, this has created a huge, huge challenge for this football team.”

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