SYLVANIA — When looking for special teams help, football coaches will try lots of things. Some will ask for volunteers, some will just grab the biggest kid and tell him to kick away, and some will just keep the offense on the field or go for two all the time.
At Screven County, the answer came straight from the girls’ soccer team.
Jessica Markovcic has been a welcome addition to the Gamecocks’ kicking game, which has struggled and best and been almost non-existent at worst over the last few years.
"My dad (assistant coach Terry Markovcic) and coach (Greg) Manoir asked if I wanted to play," said Markovcic. "I’ve been kicking since I was little and I have fun doing it, so I decided to go out and give it a try."
The junior has excelled in Screven’s first three games. Markovcic missed her first extra point attempt in the season opener, but has connected on each of her last nine attempts.
Over the entire 2009 season, Screven kickers hit just eight extra points in 19 attempts.
Markovcic’s best performance of the season so far came last Friday as she went 4-for-4 on extra points and nailed a 27-yard field goal — the first of her career — to help the Gamecocks lock down their first win of the season in a 31-0 rout of rival Southeast Bulloch.
"It all feels pretty normal," said Markovcic. "I was a little nervous the first couple of times I went in, but not anymore."
Many would consider a girl stepping on to the football field to be an event in itself, but perhaps the biggest credit to Markovcic’s contributions this season is that her ability to put points on the board has become a much bigger talking point than the locker room that she uses.
"I feel totally comfortable in games and at practice," said Markovcic. "I don’t think that (being a girl) has ever really been an issue. We’re a team out there, so we all play hard for each other and have a lot of confidence in each other."
Not content to contribute only to the football team, Markovcic has also excelled in other sports.
Markovcic will spend the spring patrolling the net for the Lady Gamecocks’ soccer team and she also leads the way for the cross country team. Just a day after her performance against SEB, Markovcic competed in the Ray Miller Invitational at the Magnolia Springs cross country course. Her time of 25:19 won the A/AA group and was good for seventh among all runners.
"It’s a little hectic going from one practice to another every day," said Markovcic. "It’s fine with me though. I like doing both and I think I can help out both teams, so I’ll keep doing whatever I have to to help us win on the football field or at cross country meets."
It’s certainly a tall order for anyone, but Markovcic is just the right woman for the job.
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.