Batton gives Knights a leg up
To start the game Friday night, Matt Batton blasted a kick that catapulted into the night sky and sailed upward for what seemed like an eternity.
When the ball finally came down into the hands of Manual’s James Thomas, about seven Richwoods tacklers smothered Thomas to the ground at the 10-yard line.
Batton’s towering kickoffs and punts give the Richwoods special teams coverage a big advantage, said Knights coach Dave Lang after Richwoods beat Manual, 31-0, to improve its record to 5-0.
“It’s huge,” he said. “He gets such great height on his kicks. It gives our coverage time to get downfield and make the tackle, which gives the other team poor field position. That gives us an edge. Field position is so important.”
Later in the game, Batton drilled a 33-yard field goal that shot through the center of the uprights and landed well beyond the track. The field goal would have been good from at least 45 yards out. Batton also converted all four of his extra point attempts.
“If we get the snap down, Matt is pretty much a sure thing on extra points,” Lang said. “And, it is great to have the option of kicking a field goal in certain situations. We feel confident sending Matt out there to get us those three points.”
Batton, who started kicking in seventh grade, practices his kicks routinely during the week. He has attended kicking camps and worked hard at perfecting his kickoffs and field goals.
His punts are just as majestic as his kickoffs. Against Manual, he caught a high snap, positioned his feet, and belted a 44-yard punt that pinned Manual behind the 20-yard line.
Batton said he would like to kick in college next year, and he is getting some interest from college coaches.
But, kicking is not Batton’s only assignment.
As starting left tackle, he is also a key part of the Knights’ hard-nosed, air-tight defense.
Friday night, he made back-to-back tackles behind the line of scrimmage that forced Manual to punt.
“It gets tough sometimes (kicking and playing defense), but I’ve adapted to it,” Batton said. “I love playing defense. I wouldn’t want to give that up.”
When asked if it was difficult for a player to work on kicking and defense in practice, Lang said,
“No, not for Matt. He does whatever we ask of him. He’s worked hard in the weight room, and he’s done a great job on defense. He’s a complete football player — plain and simple. We’re lucky to have him.”