Patriots kicker puts his best foot forward Football: John Carroll's Scott Collins gave up soccer for football and the results have surprised even him.

October 26, 1997|By Mark Hoeflich | Mark Hoeflich,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

The transformation of John Carroll kicker Scott Collins occurred this past summer.

That's when Collins decided he no longer would play both football and soccer in the same season, as he did in the fall of 1996, choosing instead to concentrate fully on being the Patriots' everyday kicker and punter.

"I knew the football team was going to be good this year and I realized I had a better chance to play football in college then soccer," Collins said.

It proved to be the right move for Collins, and seven games into this season, the numbers are striking. He has converted 19 of 21 extra points and made nine of 10 field-goal attempts, tying one state record and setting another along the way. His 57-yard field goal last Saturday against McDonogh tied the state record held by Jason Bloom (Perry Hall) in 1994. And his four field goals (42, 36, 31 and 33 yards) in an earlier game against Curley, also set a single-game state record.

Furthermore, with one more field goal over the Patriots final two games, Collins would establish a metro-area record for the most field goals in a single season with 10.

If Collins wasn't well known last season throughout the metro area, and specifically, the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference, he is now.

"My success as a kicker has been surprising but good news and hopefully I can take it to the next level," said Collins, whose record-tying field goal against McDonogh was only made possible after an offside penalty on teammate Mike McComas. "When I come into a game, I always think that this kick is the most important kick."

Even so, the numbers tell only part of the story. They do not convey the camaraderie Collins has with his teammates or how hard he works in practice. Or the poise he displays with every kick.

"The players all joke with me because I'm only a kicker but at the same time they know I can make a difference in games whether I'm hitting someone or not," Collins said.

"Scott has not been separated from anybody," said John Carroll coach Bill Mackley. "He has to do the same type of workout as everybody else, and his teammates have a lot of respect for his talents."

Collins gives credit for much of his success to Nick Gancitano, who lettered as a kicker for Penn State in 1982 and '83, and now runs a summer camp each year in Miami.

Collins attended Gancitano's private lessons over the summer, improving on the more technical aspects of kicking, particularly keeping his head down and following through with a leg whip.

"Nick knew I was serious about kicking and he knows what it takes mentally to be a good kicker," said Collins. "One of the most important things Nick said to me was always concentrate on the process and never think about the outcome."

From his first game as a Patriot, Collins faced a rather unfavorable situation. It was John Carroll's season-opening game year ago against Joppatowne and Collins was rushed in to attempt his first-ever field goal, a 25-yarder in the game's final minute. It was a position that would overwhelm many first-year kickers, but Collins lives for those moments, and he calmly converted the game-winning kick.

"Pressure doesn't seem to bother him, in fact he seems like he can't wait to get in there under pressure situations," Mackley said.

Collins' lengthy kicks not only benefit the Patriots' offense. With his kickoffs often reaching the end zone and his punts averaging 43.9 yards, John Carroll's defense is put in a more favorable position with the opponent backed deep into its own end.

"We have a special weapon in Scott," Mackley said. "When an opposing team has to start on the 20-yard line and work 80 yards down field, that's pretty hard for most high schools teams."

Much was uncertain when Collins first walked out on the practice field two years ago. But this much is not, he is making statements with his kicking these days.

Pub Date: 10/26/97

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