With three seconds remaining in regulation and the Deer Creek Antlers near midfield and trailing Lawton by three points, head coach Wade Standley didn’t hesitate to put the fate of his team on the leg of junior kicker Logan Ward.
Ward calmly split the uprights from 55 yards out to tie the game as the horn sounded and sent the Deer Creek sideline into pandemonium. The Antlers kept Lawton from scoring on the first possession of overtime and then Standley trotted Ward out on first down to kick the game-winner.
“I’ve got complete confidence in Logan,” admitted Standley, who believes Ward has the leg strength to make a field goal from 60-65 yards. “They called a timeout to ice him. I just pulled Logan aside and I smiled at him and said, ‘Hey, hit this thing and let’s get out of here. Are you ready to win it?’ And he said, ‘Absolutely!’ I knew at that point that he would get it done.”
“We were talking about it going in to fourth down,” said Ward on the possibility of trying the game-winning field goal on first down. “I wasn’t surprised we kicked right away.”
Not only did Ward provide the heroics for Deer Creek on special teams with three field goals and averaging 51 yards on three punts, he also had a key reception from his tight end position on the Antlers’ lone touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter. Ward also caught the two-point conversion pass that trimmed the deficit to three points.
“He’s a tremendous weapon,” said Standley. “Being able to flip the field when you punt the ball, that certainly gets us out of bad field position. When you’re kicking off and you know he’s going to kick it in the end zone and put them on the 20, that’s a huge advantage, no doubt.”
“I grew up on soccer,” explained Ward on how he got such a strong leg. “I learned how to kick in about seventh grade or so, and started going to Kohl’s camps. I went to one over the summer in Wisconsin.”
Kohl’s National Scholarship Camp is one of the top kicking camps in the country and Ward more than held his own there last summer. He earned a five-star rating as a placekicker and four-and-a-half stars as a punter. His performance earned him the #7 kicker in the country ranking.
Standley has coached some good kickers in his high school career, including Redford Jones, who played for Tulsa and the Chicago Bears, and former OU and current Washington Redskins punter Tress Way. Ward’s performance is the most impressive kicking performance he’s seen as a coach.
“I’ve coached some pretty good kickers,” admitted Standley. “But I’ve never had anybody kick a 55-yarder. “That’s pretty impressive.”
Word travels quickly in football circles, and Standley believes it won’t be long before college coaches come calling after hearing about Ward’s long distance kick.
“Logan’s on their radar,” said Standley, “but he’ll certainly be on that radar a little bit more at this point.”
“Definitely,” replied Ward, regarding his interest in kicking at the next level. “I would love to pursue a college career in kicking.”