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Standout kicker gives Green Valley a leg up

Nolan Kohorst promised himself that if he didn’t like football he would go back to playing soccer during his junior year.

“Obviously, I’m still here,” said Kohorst, a junior place-kicker for Green Valley.

And the Gators certainly are thankful for that.

Last Friday, Kohorst showed off his strong right leg by booming two field goals of more than 50 yards as Green Valley knocked off Coronado 21-15 to maintain a share of first place in the Southeast League.

The 6-foot, 160-pound Kohorst made a 51-yard attempt as time expired in the first half to put the Gators (3-2) on top 11-8. Then, with his team clinging to a three-point lead late in the fourth quarter, Kohorst banged home a 53-yarder that all but sealed Green Valley’s second consecutive victory.

In addition, Kohorst barely missed a 52-yard try in the second quarter that Gators coach Matt Gerber thought was good.

“He’s got a big leg,” said Gerber, whose team hosts Canyon Springs (0-4) at 7 p.m. Friday. “I always believe that in close games special teams can determine it. To have a kid like that with that kind of leg power makes life a lot easier.”

Kohorst began playing soccer when he was 6 years old but always had wanted to try football. One evening during the summer between his freshman and sophomore years, Kohorst was at the school with his little brother booting field goals.

“We had a seven-on-seven scrimmage, and we were finishing up, cleaning up the field, and I heard this ‘Boom!’ ” Gerber recalled.

After seeing Kohorst knock a ball through the uprights, Gerber approached Kohorst and asked him if he wanted to play varsity football.

“I knew we had something special,” Gerber said. “If we get to the 35-yard line, we can come away with points. Most high school teams can’t say that.”

As a sophomore, Kohorst made 10 field goals, which led the state, according to Gerber. He already is halfway to that total this season and plans to attend a kicking camp after the season to further improve his technique.

Kohorst nearly didn’t get the chance to make his second long field goal against Coronado. Gerber was contemplating going for it on fourth down, but after seeing what Kohorst had done earlier in the game, he decided to let his kicker take another shot from long range.

“It was a great experience just to get that type of distance,” said Kohorst, who added that he is comfortable from as far out as 55 yards. “It doesn’t affect they way I play, and it’s not going to change the way I practice. I’m just going to keep everything the same.”

Kohorst’s leg also is a weapon on kickoffs as he is able to regularly put the ball in the end zone and force opponents to drive 80 yards for a touchdown.

“I like having the other team stand on the back of the goal line and watch the ball sail over their heads,” Kohorst said. “I’m sure my kickoff team doesn’t like it, though.”

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