When Keith Duncan lines up for a kick, he is completely focused on the routine that he repeats for every extra point, field goal and kickoff.
The all-state, Weddington senior kicker says he tries to treat every kick the same, whether it is a routine extra point with a 30-point lead or a pressure field goal late in a tight game.
Duncan, a four-year starter, has done it at a record-breaking pace. He owns the school and Union county records for field goals in a season (17, 2014) and career (33). He also is on pace to break the all-time, county, extra-point record, 233, held by Porter Ridge’s, now Oregon kicker, Matt Wogan.
Duncan, 17, also has hit a state-record 107 straight extra points (through the Charlotte Christian game this season), smashing the previous record of 77.
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While Duncan is more motivated than ever on the field, he is also kicking to help a greater cause this year.
Each time Duncan scores on an extra point or field goal, more money goes to pediatric cancer research through the “Kick-It for a Kid,” program.
Duncan has raised $340 of his $1,000 goal, but hopes to get even more donations and pledges, which anyone can do by going to www.kick-it.org/2015/08/kick-it-for-a-kid (search for Keith Duncan).
“I still have the same focus on every kick,” Duncan said. “But now, after I make a kick, I always think about more money going to fight cancer too. Knowing that I am helping fight cancer while making a kick makes me feel even better. It makes each kick even more important.”
Duncan has worked with private kicking coach, former University of North Carolina kicker, Dan Orner, for the last four years.
“I try to have the same form with every kick, like it’s a 60-yard field goal,” Duncan said. “I set up the block in the center of the target. Then, I look up beyond the goal posts, usually somewhere high in a tree or a light pole. I take three to four steps back, one step to the left and look up again at my spot. I don’t move until I see the ball hit my holder’s hands. Then, all I think about is run to my plant (foot), keep my eyes back and follow through straight.”
Duncan didn’t started kicking until he arrived at Weddington High as a freshman, when his family moved here from the Dallas, Texas, area. He had previously played cornerback and wide receiver in middle school.
But he quickly proved he had a talent for kicking going 5-for-5 on field goals and 42 for 45 on extra points as a freshman. His breakout season was his junior year.
Duncan kicked a Union County record 17 field goals last year, earning all-Southern Carolinas’ conference, all-state, all-Charlotte Observer honors. While his scoring ability helps the team, booting 71 touchbacks (in 82 kicks) helped him prove he is a major weapon for a Warriors’ team that won a school-record 14 games on their way to a 3A state runner-up finish last year.
“Keith is a huge asset for our team both offensively, defensively and for our special teams,” Weddington football coach, Tim Carson said. “He has worked extremely hard not only at kicking, but also to get bigger and stronger in the weight room, where he can kick the ball in the end zone consistently on kickoffs.”
Duncan, now 5-foot-10, 150 pounds, is off to another strong start. He is 11-for-11 on extra points and four-for-four on field goals (through Charlotte Christian game).
The Weddington senior already booted a career-best 52-yard field goal against Forest Hills (third-best in Union County history) and a 45-yarder against Charlotte Christian.
While Duncan deserves a lot of the credit, he says he couldn’t succeed without his teammates, especially his holder, Weddington punter Matt Petersen and long snapper, Jack Jankowski.
“Those are the most important players on the tee in my perspective,” said Duncan. “We all have to do our part to make a kick.”
Right now, Duncan has interest from schools like the Centre, Ky., College, the Citadel, Furman and Indiana University, but hopes that list will grow.
“I’m very excited about the chance to play college football, but I’m also very stressed because I don’t know if or when that opportunity will come,” Duncan said.
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to help?
Support Weddington kicker, Keith Duncan’s “Kick-It for a Kid,” cause, which raises money to support research for Pediatric Cancer.
Go to http://www.kick-it.org/games/2015/08/kick-it-for-a-kid (Search: Keith Duncan). You can donate any dollar amount or pledge per point Duncan scores.