By John Torsiello
Ask a high school football player who his favorite pro is and you probably won’t get too many kickers mentioned. But when you ask Simsbury High School placekicker Kyle Dougherty who his favorite NFL player is he doesn’t hesitate.
“I don’t have a specific favorite place kicker but being a New York Giants fan, I have to give credit to Lawrence Tynes for greatly contributing to the two championships we had in the past couple years. The current Giants kicker, Josh Brown, is also doing great, giving us our second win with five field goals in our last game.”
Dougherty, a senior, has earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the best schoolboy kickers in the state. He has made 10-of-12 point-after-touchdown kicks, is 3-of-3 on field goal attempts, and kicked a 35-yard field goal with 37 seconds left to give Simsbury a 23-20 victory over East Hartford this season. He has also averaged 55 yards on kickoffs and is averaging 38.5 yards per punt.
Last year he made 19-of-20 points-after-touchdowns, was 2-of-3 on field goal attempts and averaged 37.9 yards a punt.
“Kicking the game winning field goal earlier this season felt great,” he said. “After a tough loss to Farmington it was reassuring to lock down a win against East Hartford. I always like to make big plays on the field. Many times kickers can be looked down upon or just overlooked by players and others, but in reality they can make or break games. It was actually my second game winner of my career, which took away some nerves.”
Said head coach Jeff Osborne, “Kyle is very cool under pressure and has kicked two game winning field goals during his career. He is a leader in the state punting average and is a tremendous teammate. He is highly respected by his peers, and like most kickers, is a very laidback player. He was in my sophomore and junior social studies classes and was a very driven student. His brother, Sean, a 2010 graduate, was an excellent wide receiver during our championship years.”
Dougherty is also a starting wide receiver (three receptions for 62 yards), a back up outside linebacker, and returns kickoffs and punts. He began kicking a football in the eighth grade but only in practice.
“I didn’t really kick a point after touchdown until almost my junior year. Before then it was only in practice for a short amount of time. I played soccer in elementary school and was known for having a `big leg,’ so kicking came naturally for me. Kicking just always was the thing I was good at.”
Each practice, Simsbury has a designated time for special teams, which allows Dougherty time to work on field goals, punts, and kickoffs. He also worked out with the team during the offseason.
He says of his football craft, “Kicking is a lot about technique. At first I only muscled the ball through the uprights. But throughout the years I’ve been able to teach myself what’s best. Another thing that is important is to stay calm. Kicking is tough in the sense that all eyes are always on you when you’re on the field. It is necessary to stay calm and get your job done.”
His longest field goal in a game is somewhere around 41 yards but in practice he’s been able to hit from 50 yards.
Although he has played many sports throughout the years, including, baseball, soccer, basketball, and rugby in addition to football, currently Dougherty is only playing football and YMCA basketball. He may play rugby this upcoming season.
He said of his future in kicking beyond high school, “I don’t plan on going to school for kicking. My number one school is UConn and it is a possibility that I’ll try to walk on to the team.”