When a drive stalls during the regular season, it is a much easier decision to roll the dice and try to convert on fourth down. Now that the District One Class AAAA is upon the area, points are at a premium and three points are better than taking a chance and coming up empty. The special teams and kickers have a chance to steal the spotlight and shape the postseason.
Last Friday, the North Penn football team found out it has a kicker it can count on during the district title stretch. Knights junior kicker Matt Ammendola dialed up a 56-yard field goal at Crawford Stadium in a 44-14 over Souderton. The kick broke the team record of Brandon McManus. The 2009 grad and former Temple University kicker hit a 54-yard field goal in his junior year.
"It was beautiful night and the kid boomed it,' Souderton coach Ed Gallagher said. "That thing was just crushed and probably good from 60. We sent a kid back to return thinking he would not come close. I hate to see them against us, but I am happy for the kid. Nobody expected to see Brandon McManus' record broken.'
It is records like ones on Friday night — the third longest kick in PIAA history according to the PIAA Football Records page on Wikipedia — that can get players noticed to play on the next level. It helped McManus find a home at Temple and if Ammendola can continue to put it through the uprights a similar path could be in his future.
"We all were excited about it,' Ammendola said after the game. "Right when I hit the kick I knew it was good. It was curving left, but it felt good. My farthest actually is 60 in practice. I usually practice every day after school to see how far I can go. You just have to trust yourself.'
It was not so much on Friday that the Knights found out how much strength was is Ammendola's leg, but the community and Coatesville, North Penn's first round opponent in districts. Ammendola's leg will have to be accounted for in the contest.
"I said it from day one that this kicker is very special,' Knights coach Dick Beck said. "He has a super strong leg and all year he has been kicking the ball in the end zone. He has made every single extra point, except when we had two bad snaps. He has been off the charts for us.'
Ammendola is serving as the kicker for the Knights for the first year. He has been a punter and kicker since his youth football days. As many high school kickers do, Ammendola also play soccer. Beck has no issue with him playing two sports. As long as he is in helmet and pads this Friday night in Coatesville.
"We feel terrific,' Ammendola said. "It is going to be exciting season. We started up slow, but we are feeling good right now.'
"I know he plays soccer also, but as long as he doesn't miss the games,' Beck said. "That is all I care about.'
Follow Andrew Marcus on Twitter @amarcus515.