Northville kicker Jake Moody is leveled by a Grand Blanc player on the opening kickoff in a game Sept. 29. Special to Detroit News
Jake Moody is closing out his senior season by showing his toughness as well as his powerful right leg for Northville High School.
Moody, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound senior, was drilled by a Grand Blanc player on the opening kickoff of Northville’s 38-30 loss on Sept. 29.
Moody got off the turf, brush himself off and came back to kick a 58-yard field goal — second longest in state history — then kicked the ball into the end zone from the 20 after Northville had a safety.
“I wasn’t expecting that at all since my head was down and the next thing I know I was getting blown out,” said Moody, who has offers from Central Michigan, Bowling Green, Air Force and Army, and also is getting attention from Michigan State and Toledo. “I kind of looked over at their sideline and their coaches were clapping at me, trying to get me all rattled I guess, but that just made me more fired up.
“When I made the 58-yard field goal, it was that much cooler.”
Northville veteran coach Matt Ladach was upset with the hit on Moody.
“We kicked off and one of their guys ran and plowed our kicker right after he kicked off,” Ladach said. “It’s against the rules. You’re not allowed to do it, but unfortunately there wasn’t a penalty called.
“It was very, very frustrating because everybody in the stadium watched it. You could see it was premeditated. You have kids on the sideline getting hyped and waiting for it, you could see it on film, and then the kid blows him up and they’re all watching it, jumping up and down, and then when he comes off the field one of his teammates chest bumps him. It’s just sad.”
MHSAA communications director John Johnson said there is no rule that specifically protects the kicker on a kickoff.
“There’s no protection — a rule in place for a kicker on a kickoff — because they have 10 yards, not like roughing the kicker (on a field goal) where everybody’s right on top of things,” Johnson said. “However, a referee always has the discretion to call unnecessary roughness, and depending on the type of hit it was there, it could escalate to ejection. But a specific rule to protect the kicker on the kickoff does not exist.”
Ladach was impressed with the way Moody came back and kicked that 58-yard field goal, then kicked the ball more than 80 yards off the tee following the safety, all coming in the first half.
“I’ve never seen that before,” Ladach said of the 80-yard kickoff. “He’s having a phenomenal year.”
Moody has converted 26-of-34 field goals during the last two seasons, making 12-of-17 this season, including 3-of-6 from 50 yards or farther. He had a 55-yarder against Plymouth, a 57-yarder against Dearborn and the 58-yarder against Grand Blanc. He has made all 25 PATs and put the ball in the end zone on all but two of his 40 kickoffs, and averaged 41.2 yards on 16 punts, placing five inside the 5.
Grand Blanc coach Clint Alexander — the head coach at Northville from 2003-05 — admitted that the strategy was to try and get in Moody’s head on the opening kickoff.
“We blocked him, hit him, maybe a little MMA,” Alexander said. “He’s a great kicker, kicks the ball in the end zone. We wanted to hit him early on and maybe have him thinking about it to distract him.”
Ladach said it wasn’t the first time he’s witnessed a hit on a kicker similar to the one leveled against Moody.
“Some teams did that to Kyle Bambard while he was kicker and quarterback at Walled Lake Western (in 2013), and fortunately in that regard they did get 15-yard penalties, so at least there were some repercussions,” Ladach said. “It’s embarrassing that someone would teach their kids to do that. It’s sad. You have coaches that want to claim that they are men of character, and yet they’re encouraging that nonsense. It’s too bad.”
Ladach said he wouldn’t think twice about sending Moody out for what would be a state record 60-yard field-goal attempt if the opportunity presents itself during the final two weeks of the regular season, starting with Friday’s game against rival Novi.
Moody would love nothing more than to see his teammates reach the end zone, but if a 60-yarder is available, he would enjoy making history.
“Hopefully my team will score touchdowns so we put a lot of points on the board, but if I get a chance at a 60-yarder, that would be great,” Moody said. “I know I could kick one of I have a little breeze behind me or no wind at all.”
To reach the state playoffs, Northville (3-4) needs to win its final two games, then would need to be one of the 5-4 teams picked to play in the postseason.