CLOVER — The presence of two female kickers impacted the Clover High School junior varsity football team in a positive way this season.
Morgan Garver, a sophomore placekicker, handled the PATs and was available for field goal attempts.
Junior Sydney Sanders, who was responsible for the kickoffs, filled in for Garver when the Blue Eagle placekicker suffered a knee injury earlier in the season.
Blue Eagle junior varsity head coach Jeremy Smith spoke in glowing terms of the team’s placekicking duo.
“They both did an outstanding job and have been well received by their teammates,” Smith said. “It’s a real good situation for the team.”
Smith said he has seen improvement in the jayvee team’s kicking game since the season began.
“Morgan recovered from her knee injury,” he said. “She returned to handling placekicking duties. Sydney improved her kickoffs.”
Garver, who has played competitive soccer since she was 10, said a longtime soccer background contributed to her success as a placekicker. She’s a member of the CHS girls soccer team and plays club soccer.
She is grateful to Smith for the chance to play high school football.
“Some coaches would’ve laughed at the idea,” Garver said. “Coach Smith said to come on out and give it a try. He’s a great coach.”
Garver, who had a couple one-on-one tackles in kick coverage during the season, said she reaped the benefits of being part of the Blue Eagle football program.
“I really like being part of the team and the responsibility that goes with it,” she said. “I have matured a lot.”
The sophomore placekicker also praised her teammates.
“I love the players,” she said. “They are like my brothers. “They treat me with respect because they feel I have earned it.
She added: “I love what I do and want to stay with it. I hope to be able to contribute at the high school level and beyond.”
Sanders agreed that the team has been willing to accept female football players. “The players on the team were good to us,” she said. “They treated us as being equal on the playing field.”
Sanders also said she appreciates Smith’s words of encouragement when she asked about competing for a spot on the team.
“I was talking with some friends one day about the possibility of trying out for the team and decided to give it a try,” said Sanders. “I talked to coach Smith and he said to come on out and see what happens.”
Sanders began working to improve her kick when preseason workouts began the first week in August.
“I’ve worked to improve my kickoffs and to get more distance,” she said. “I like being part of the team. I had fun this season.”
Smith said he has been pleased with the team’s work ethic and commitment throughout the 2013 season.
“I told the players that they are setting the tone for the future of the football program at CHS,” he said. “The kids responded, especially on the defensive side of the ball.”