Monticello's P.J. Leiataua used an obscure and almost forgotten method of scoring in the Bucks' 73-8 win over Whitehorse last week: the drop kick. From the inception of football, kickers have opted to use a placeholder or simply drop the ball and kick it for a field goal or point-after. The drop kick's only requirement is that contact be made as the ball hits the ground or as it begins to bounce upward. Otherwise, it's a punt.
Before the mid-1930s, the football was more rounded on the ends, which made drop kicking easier. To facilitate passing, the ball was made "flatter" and more pointed on the ends in 1934. Drop kicking faded because of the awkward bounces the new design sometimes made.
In the NFL, Doug Flutie booted a drop kick on Jan. 1, 2006 for an extra point. It was his final play in his final game. Before that, there hadn't been a successful NFL drop kick since 1941. The last successful drop kick in the NCAA was by Aaron Fitzgerald in LaVerne's win over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (both Division III colleges in the L.A. area) in 1990.
(Both Flutie's and Fitzgerald's kicks can be seen on YouTube; Fitzgerald's shows the technique better.)
In Utah prep football, it's been 76 years since the last known successful drop kick. South's Clarence Gehrke booted a 3-pointer from the 15-yard line when South blanked East, 18-0, on Nov. 6, 1935.
Murray's Ray Badovinatz missed one from the 37 in a losing effort against Cyprus in 1963 and before last week, that was the last known attempt.
Thanks to Rhett Sifford of KAAJ-FM for bringing the play to my attention. He also reported that Monticello called timeout to alert the officials about the play and that Leiataua's drop kick came from the 17.
Wearing out the scorekeeper:
Monticello's 73 points are the most ever scored by the Bucks, who tallied 45 in the first quarter alone! Just last season, Bingham racked up 49 on Copper Hills in the first period on Sept. 30. Before that, no one had scored at least 45 points in a quarter since 1931. Only five Utah prep games have seen more than 45 scored in a single quarter topped by East's 68 against LDSU in 1919 (148-0 final).
Although scoring 73 or more is a lot, it's not unheard of in recent years. Last year, Enterprise crushed Lincoln County (Nev.), 74-30, and in 2009, Hurricane flattened American Leadership, 74-7, in a 3A first round playoff game.
Kanab destroyed Altamont, 73-8, in 2006 and in 2001, Northridge manhandled Copper Hills, 77-26, in the first round of the 5A tournament.
Even Whitehorse itself has been on the other side of a lopsided game: the Raiders walloped Rock Point (Ariz.), 74-14, in 2001.
Just six squads remain unscathed through six weeks – two in 4A (East and Logan) and one in each of the other classifications: Lone Peak (5A), Hurricane (3A), San Juan (2A) and Duchesne (1A). Neither East nor Logan have easy paths to remaining unbeaten until Week 10, but if they can, they'd meet with unblemished records in a nonregion game on Oct. 19.
Even though teams in several regions have played just one game heading into the heart of the league portion of the season, Beaver and San Juan have already secured Class 2A playoff berths. So have all nine Class 1A teams since all nine qualify for the 1A tournament.
In 2A, Manti, by defeating North Sevier, and Millard, by beating American Leadership, will claim berths.
Nearly Clinched (at least a tie):
All the 2-0 teams in Region 1 (Fremont), 5 (Logan, Mountain Crest), 6 (Bountiful, East) and 7 (Olympus, Skyline) and 3-0 Hurricane in 3A will clinch at least a tie for a playoff berth with a win, and some will cement a spot, depending on other region games.