BROOKLET — No matter the strategy of any football team, it’s pretty likely that the team’s head coach will preach special teams as one of the most important factors for success.
So it’s quite fitting that — aside from the daily weightlifting and running activities that many schools have been running throughout the summer — one of the first on-field practices in Bulloch County was the kicking camp held Friday at Southeast Bulloch High School.
In all, 33 players from 12 schools around the coastal region gathered in Brooklet for a one-day crash course on mechanics and strategy.
“I know that our special teams were something we really had to work on last season,” SEB coach Pat Collins said. “We really wanted to stress that this season. So far, every second of our team walkthroughs this summer have been spent on special teams. This camp is a great way to get our guys some great instruction and also open up our facilities to others in the area who want to improve.”
Leading the instruction was a man who is no stranger to kicking balls around town.
Mike Dowis served as the placekicker for the 1989 and 1990 Georgia Southern national championship teams. He nailed a last-minute 20-yard field goal to clinch the Eagles’ perfect 15-0 season (and third national title) against Stephen F. Austin in 1989 and still ranks second on Georgia Southern’s all-time list for highest percentage of field goals made.
Dowis now serves as athletic director and assistant principle at North Oconee High School — which will take part in the Erk Russell Classic next month — and jumped at the chance to help coach up some of the finer aspects of the kicking game.
“For awhile, schools have contacted me to come and work with their kickers,” Dowis said. “That’s what coach Collins did. After we talked, he called me back and said that the whole area could probably use some instruction. We worked everything out and I’m glad to be able to help put on this camp.”
When thinking of a kicker or punter’s role in a game, it’s easy to over-simplify.
While the goal of splitting the uprights or creating good field position seems easy enough to imagine, those goals are only met consistently in games by way of countless repetitions — just like any quarterback throwing routes or a lineman going over his blocking assignments.
By offering one-on-one coaching and leaving campers with helpful tips and thoughts, the SEB camp aimed to send players into the upcoming season with individual training that might not come during the grind of the regular season.
“Unfortunately, there are a lot of schools that only have so much room on their coaching staffs,” Dowis said. “There aren’t many schools that have a coach whose job is to work with just kickers or special teams.
“I think that coaching snaps and kicks with individuals helps a little more than a special teams practice with everyone on the field. I just hope that all of these kids can take something out of this to help them out this season.”
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.