Saturday, October 6, 2012

Porter Ridge K Matt Wogan has HUGE game against Parkwood (plus a feature story)

Well, I've seen a lot of great kickers working here at the Observer for what is now my fourth decade (no old man jokes, y'all).

I've not seen many like Porter Ridge's Matt Wogan.

I was at Porter Ridge a couple weeks back when the Pirates beat Providence Day and saw Wogan make a 40-something yard kick that -- when it cleared the goalpost -- was nearly as high as the top of the posts.

It would've easily, EASILY, have been good from 60. This kid is going to Oregon and he's got a major college leg right now before any additional training.

As far as kickers go, he could get scary. And check out what he did Friday:

In a 69-0 win over Union County rival Parkwood, Wogan had one of the best nights I've ever seen from a kicker.

Wogan made two field goals, of 47- and 55-yards. He was 9-for-9 on PATs and smashed all 12 of his kickoffs for touchbacks. He had one punt for 47 yards.

In fact, I'm not sure why teams even line up when Porter Ridge kicks off. Every one of his kicks I've seen in person or on YouTube fly -- fly -- out of the back of the end zone.

I've not seen three guys in my career with a stronger leg than Wogan's.

Here's a story I wrote on him last August:

Matt Wogan, Porter Ridge’s atypical kicker, ready to mix it up

Read more here:

INDIAN TRAIL Porter Ridge’s Senior Matt Wogan is a kicker, only at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, he doesn’t look like – or play like – a typical high school kicker.

Wogan played soccer from the time he was 5 years old until 8th grade, when he switched to football full-time because he discovered that when you hit somebody, you don’t get a red card for it.

“He’s always been on the aggressive side,” Wogan’s father, Ron, said. “He didn’t mind (contact) on the soccer field. He played center mid and because of his size, when someone tried to break through, let’s just say, a lot of times they weren’t very successful.”

Matt Wogan started football in seventh grade and initially planned to run back punts and kickoffs. Only one day, he fielded a punt and decided to punt it back so he could get more reps. Only, Wogan’s return kick had a rarely seen pace and trajectory, something his middle school coach noticed immediately.

“He turned around and said, ‘Who kicked that,’ ” Wogan said. “I got pulled into it. I liked it. It had a soccer type thing to it with the kicking, but I could also hit someone. I’d always get red cards in soccer for fouling people. In football, it didn’t matter.”

Advance the story a few years, and the guy who got the job on a whim has become one of the nation’s best.

National kicking guru Chris Sailer ranks Wogan No. 3 nationally among kickers and punters. Last season, Olympic’s Cason Beatty ranked No. 5 in Sailer’s national rankings and Charlotte Latin’s Paul Griggs ranked third. Beatty is now at Florida State; Griggs is at Purdue.

Wogan picked Oregon, choosing the Ducks over schools like Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, North Carolina, Ohio State, Tennessee and South Carolina. How did he get so far from home? Wogan participated in a kicking camp at Oregon and really liked it. When he went back for a recruiting visit, he absolutely fell in love with the place. He also plans to major in sports marketing, and Oregon has a strong sports business program.

“It felt right,” he said. “It’s a long way from home, and people say I’m leaving family, but I’m also gaining a lot of people who genuinely want to be part of my life. Football there is tops in the nation. Academics are top notch. Plus, my dad says the only way to really get better is to face a challenge. He said I can only benefit from a challenge and that it’ll make me stronger. This is like that.”

By most accounts, he loves challenges.

He carries better than a 4.0 GPA while taking a combination of honors and advanced placement classes. When his private kicking coaches and football coaches at Porter Ridge told him his lack of flexibility was affecting his kicking progress, Wogan got dedicated enough that he can not only touch his toes while keeping his straight legs, but he can put his forearms flat on the ground, too.

That kind of work ethic has shown on the field. In his sophomore season, Wogan averaged 39.2 yards per punt. Last year, his average improved to 43.1. Now, most of his punts fly better than 45 yards in the air and they sail impossibly high. In practice last week, he hit a few punts that flew nearly 60 yards.

Last season he made 67-of-69 extra-point attempts and of the 93 kickoffs he took, 80 went for touchbacks – even though Wogan secretly didn’t mind if more than that were returned by the opposing team.

“My goal is to put (the kickoffs) out of the end zone every time,” he said. “At the same time, I would almost rather get out there and block and hit and pancake someone and put them on their butt. I like to do the dirty work and work hard in the trenches. I love to get in the weight room and all that stuff, too.”

Wogan’s longest field goal last season was 44 yards, but he regularly kicks them from 55 yards in practice. Porter Ridge coach Blair Hardin, whose team has reached two straight N.C. 4A semifinal games, said he would have no problem letting Wogan try a 60-yard kick this season in a game.

“He’s a 4.0 (academic) kid for a reason,” Hardin said. “He’s a worker. He’s a weight room guy. He bench presses 300 pounds as a kicker. He kicks on the weekends. He’s always trying to improve some facet of the game, off the field or on the field.”

Wogan will also play wide receiver for the Pirates this season, a position he’s played throughout his high school career. Initially, Hardin thought he had a wunderkind and just wanted to let him develop, but eventually he realized that Wogan’s aggressive nature wouldn’t limit him to special teams.

“He’s going to start for us,” Hardin said. “He’s played (wide receiver) every year. When he was younger, we wanted to bring him along in the process so he could gain confidence in his kicking, but he’s actually a football player first and a kicker second. And he’s a good football player, too.”

Wogan also has his hobbies. He goes at hunting and fishing just as hard as football. He’s caught an 8-pound bass and is such an avid deer hunter that he, his older brother, Paul, and his father will put cameras in the woods three or four weeks ahead of when they plan to hunt in order to help tract deer movement patterns.

“I love hunting,” Wogan said. “I love it a lot, but nothing compares to football. I love hitting. I love kicking. And I can’t wait to get started this year.”
Wertz: 704-612-9716; Twitter: @langstonwertzjr

Read more here:


Anonymous said...

I think his kickoff against Marvin Ridge that went to the 1 and was ran back was the first time all season someone has been able to return a kick of his.

str8talk said...

Might attempt 10 fg's in four years. Not exactly where I would want to go.