MEADOW BRIDGE – Kyle Hinken knew he was setting up for possible Meadow Bridge history when the field goal team was summoned on that crisp Oct. 11 evening.
“He knew we didn’t kick field goals,” coach Dwayne Reichard said.
That’s putting it mildly.
Anyway, in a game that finishes 41-16 – in favor of the home team, Meadow Bridge against Webster County, which was coming off some history of its own the year before in the hardwood – a field goal generally isn’t a highlight.
That it wasn’t a game-winner in the last second isn’t the thing of headlines.
And being that it was a 23 yarder job sure didn’t set in land records.
But it sure deserves to be a footnote in the history books.
Consider this: it very likely was a first. Ever. As in never happened before.
It certainly had not been done in 50 years.
That’s right, when Hinken kicked the football through the uprights for the game’s first points, was the first field goal that anyone could recall in Meadow Bridge history.
A quick digression. Generally speaking, field goals in Class A football are not a major part of many game plans, especially at public schools. On the small school level you are lucky to find enough players to fill the line spots, let alone find a kicker.
Generally, kicking was seen as an extra duty. It usually came down to a guy who ended up being one of those old-school style kickers. You know what I mean, the square toe guys, some 6-foot-4, 300 pounder where number 79, or the guy who ties his show up to give it more of a square meeting place between ball and foot. A guy who could put some behind on the ball. A straight ahead guy, none of this soccer-style, sidewinder stuff.
And, also generally speaking, there are no soccer teams in a lot of the smaller schools. Schools like Meadow Bridge, Valley, Mount Hope, those teams didn’t have soccer.
So the kicking pool is thinner than at, say, a Shady Spring or a Bluefield. Shady Spring all-state kicker Eric Bevil was a soccer player. West Virginia signee Kaulin Parris of Bluefield got his kicks in soccer long before becoming a Division 1 kicker signee. Those guys finished their careers with double figure field goal totals.
Meadow Bridge hadn’t made nary one, at least no in the modern era.
“I asked coach (Larrry) McClintic (the legendary coach at Meadow Bridge from 1969-2015) when was the last time Meadow Bridge kicked a field goal,” said Reichard, himself a former player and assistant coach at Meadow Bridge. “He said, ‘I don’t know about making one but I can tell you the last time we attempted one.’”
Turns out it was 1983 in a playoff loss to Morgantown St. Francis. It was blocked. In a 9-8 loss.
And so too was the field goal kicking days at Meadow Bridge. Until some 36 years later, when the field goal team was once again called upon.
It’s not like the Wildcats were opposed to extra point kicks. Maybe the biggest point in school history was a PAT in a 7-6 state championship victory against Pineville in 1988.
The 5-foot-11, 143-pound Hinken, and junior and number 45 in the program, number one in the hearts of the Meadow Bridge kicking faithful, knew he had a chance at history on that night.
How did it come about?
“We had a fourth down at the one (yard line) and honestly, I hadn’t even called a play, we were trying to draw them offsides,” Reichard said. “We ended up jumping off sides so that (illegal procedure) pushed it back to the six.
“I was thinking we would probably need to get a score, it could end up being some big points, so I called (for the field goal). I know he had made them from 45 yards in practice.”
He made this one, too. And with it.
Reichard had noticed Hinken kicking in gym class and the rest, as is said, is history.
Turned out to be a big homecoming night for Hinken, who is more than a kicker. He also scored his only touchdown of the year in that game, on a pass reception, and had two extra points. He finished the Wildcats’ 6-4 season with 17 PATs, that TD and field goal for 26 points.
But that three?
That one was just a little more special. And historic.