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  • Writer's pictureChase Gibson

Between the Uprights

Photos courtesy of Brady Stidham and Ben Hicks

Two years ago, Brady Stidham (9) and Ben Hicks (11) would’ve never imagined they’d be playing football. But now they are out on the field every Friday night in the fall, kicking for the Tigers last year, the Tigers weren’t the best team in terms of kicking, only having the confidence to attempt 2 field goals all year, and converting extra points at just a 78 percent rate. So the Tigers knew they would have to grab some real kicking help after their only kicker graduated last year.

“The first coach to actually reach out to me was Coach Allen,” Stidham says. “I kinda just came to practice one day and before I knew it, I was out there every day.” Hicks was in a similar situation. “I’ve known Coach Cruse forever. After a friend posted a video of me kicking, Coach asked if I would be interested in kicking for the team. From then on, I got in touch with Coach Damewood to learn the process and technique.”

Both Ben and Brady played soccer before this, explaining their love for kicking. “I knew I had a strong foot for sure,” Stidham added. “But playing football didn’t really seem like my thing.” Ben also knew the talent was there and had tried kicking before he was even on the team. “I’ve tried it out in the past and it was fun to just see the ball go through the uprights. When the opportunity arose, I ran with it.”

Hicks covers shorter field goals and extra points while Stidham covers the kickoffs and long field goals. This system hit the ground running in the Tigers' first game, as Stidham had every kickoff for the Tigers at home vs Middletown, while Hicks went 3/3 with PATs.

The Tigers have adapted to this dynamic duo on special teams and the energy and compatibility that these two have with the team is as high as ever. “It was really easy getting accustomed to the culture of the team. I love being around the guys as we push our way towards our goal of November football,” Hicks added. Stidham agrees that the culture of the team was incredibly accepting towards him and Hicks. “Even on the sideline, we are helping keep composure and keeping that good energy that transfers to the field.”

This energy has kept the team together and let these two form a bond as they help the Tigers kick their way to victory. “We obviously knew each other before this through basketball and what not, and there’s obviously competitiveness between us as athletes,” Hicks adds. “But I can confidently say that we enjoy being around each other, we know our roles, and we are a special part of this team.”

This dual kicker project has been tested early this season, but for now, it seems that both Hicks and Stidham are a quality part of this team, and this duo can prove to be one of the best tandems in the ECC.

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