BRIDGER — An elite kicker is one of the most valuable commodities to a 6-Man football team. With a shorter field and PATs and field goals worth an extra point compared to the 8- and 11-Man games, a talented kicker can change the game in a hurry.
Bridger knows all about that with senior Lucius Payovich, who has one of the biggest legs in the state.
“That’s one of our main goals, is just get it through the end zone every time. Down at the 15 and easy from there," Payovich said.
“Teams that are good will do that to you if they’ve got a good offense. I feel comfortable with the way our defense has been playing," Bridger head coach Jim Goltz said. "Making them go a longer distance, killing the clock, all that stuff plays a big part into it. If he can kick it out of the end zone, it’s a great benefit to our team.”
Goltz says he’s comfortable trotting Payovich out between 40-50 yards, as the field goal unit is one that’s been together for years. Payovich has made it pay off for the Scouts in crunch time in 2021, hitting a game-winner against Meteetsee, Wyo., in the team's season-opener to propel the Scouts to a 34-32 win.
Even in the biggest of moments, he focuses on just three words.
“Usually just relax. I’m playing before that, too. Just get up there, relax, nice, easy swing," Payovich said. "Hopefully it goes in. Just a nice strike, clear my head."
“The other part of that is the snapper and the holder. It’s three parts, not just the kicker, but the snap has got to get there and the hold has got to get down," Goltz said. "Rod Zentner is our snapper and Chance (Goltz) is our holder. Between the three of them, they’ve been doing it for three of four years now. It’s pretty fluid. We back up a little bit deeper because (Zentner) can get the snap there. That distance helps because the rushers can’t get to them, especially when the snap is spot on.”
Payovich played soccer growing up, which he credits for his ability to kick a football. It’s a common theme for teams to dig out soccer players to kick, but that’s typically at bigger schools.
“All the footwork, everything that goes into it and all the strength I got from running and kicking the ball. The skills I gained from soccer just coming towards football," said Payovich.
“You see the AA or A schools have a soccer guy come and kick for them on Friday and then they’re playing during the weekdays. Having two kickers, having Lucius, is a pretty nice deal," Goltz said.
The third-ranked 6-0 Scouts will showcase Payovich’s leg next on October 15 against Shields Valley.