Griffith is St. Al’s Mr. Automatic

Published 10:45 am Tuesday, November 11, 2014

St. Aloysius kicker Casey Griffith boots a kickoff earlier this season. Griffith is 57-for-58 on PATs and 3-for-5 on field goals this season. (Paul Ingram/For The Vicksburg Post)

St. Aloysius kicker Casey Griffith boots a kickoff earlier this season. Griffith is 57-for-58 on PATs and 3-for-5 on field goals this season. (Paul Ingram/For The Vicksburg Post)

Junior kicker has made 57 PATs in a row

Casey Griffith doesn’t have much of a routine when he lines up for a kick. He just marks off his steps, takes a deep breath, and boots it through the uprights.

It’s an unremarkable setup, but then again keeping things simple usually is the best way to achieve perfection. And with the way Griffith is kicking this season, there’s no reason to overcomplicate things.

Griffith, St. Al’s junior kicker, has converted 57 consecutive PAT attempts since having one blocked in the season opener against Cathedral. He’s 57-for-58 on the season and has turned extra points at St. Al into a mere formality.

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“In any level, that’s probably the most overlooked position of all, until they miss,” St. Al coach BJ Smithhart said. “Half the time I turn my back and walk up the sideline to talk to the kickoff team. I don’t even worry about him making it.”

In high school football, where the skill level of kickers can vary wildly, Griffith’s ability to turn six points into seven is more than a luxury for the Flashes.

His consistency has been a psychological weapon against opponents who have to go for two-point conversions and then chase points if they don’t make it.

“That’s definitely a plus. We played Shaw, and I think they went for two every time and didn’t get a single one. That cost them a lot of points,” said St. Al quarterback Connor Smith, who holds for Griffith on PATs and field goals. “For us to have a guy that’s so consistent kicking extra points is a lot bigger. We take it for granted because it’s so easy, but I think it’s a really big deal.”

Griffith’s success isn’t just a one-year phenomenon. He was 5-for-5 on PATs and made his only field goal attempt as a sophomore.

Griffith spent the 2013 season in a backup role to Blake Hudson, who wrote his name into St. Al football lore with a pair of game-winners in the playoffs to beat Coffeeville and Hamilton. Hudson was a perfect 12-for-12 on field goals.

Griffith stepped into the starting role after Hudson graduated, and said it was an easy transition.

“I guess I was a little bit nervous, but me and Blake always worked together, so it was nothing,” Griffith said. “It was a change, but it wasn’t that big.”

Griffith hasn’t gotten to try a pressure-packed kick — yet — or very many field goals at all. Smithhart said Griffith’s range is up to 45 yards, but the Flashes’ offense hasn’t given him many reasons to call his kicker onto the field to test it.

The offense has been so efficient that it rarely stalls in field goal range. Griffith’s 30-yarder in last week’s 59-32 rout of Greenville-St. Joe was just his fifth attempt of the season. He’s made three of them.

The team’s offensive firepower has also led to a lack of the late-game drama the team thrived on last season. St. Al (10-1), which hosts Coldwater in the first round of the Class 1A playoffs on Friday, has only had two games that were competitive in the second half.

If the time comes, however, there’s little doubt among his coaches and teammates that Griffith will deliver.

“We know if we score, the seven is automatic,” Smith said. “If a drive stalls, that’s another thing. Even if it’s a 20-yarder we feel confident he can make it.”

On the radio

Friday, 7 p.m., 101.3 FM

Class 1A playoffs, Coldwater at St. Al

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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