By Kyle Daubs
There was no doubt about it.
Kaden Junge was ready.
A gritty Taylorville football squad had battled back from a two-touchdown deficit last Friday to tie the score against visiting Mattoon, 14-14.
Early in the fourth quarter, Jung thought there might be a chance for him to give the Green Wave back the lead.
“As our offense was going downfield, I was trying to stay warm and mentally be ready for what was going to come next,” said Junge. “When I was called out to kick, I was ready.”
Junge’s 32-yard field goal sailed through the right upright to give the Green Wave the 17-14 lead in the fourth quarter.
MHS subsequently shut down Taylorville to earn the victory.
“As I was about to kick, I was more focused and confident than anything else,” said Junge. “I was just trying to mentally bring myself back to the field during the hours of practice when nobody was there. When the kick was good, I felt a momentum change from the team. I was excited and was very proud of how hard the line was working for me and how good of a job the snapper and placeholder did to put me in an opportunity to do something like that.”
Taylorville threatened in the fourth quarter, but the Green Wave was able to hold on. The Tornadoes took over on their 30-yard-line with five minutes to play and moved the ball to Mattoon’s 20. With 12 seconds left in the game, the team attempted a 32-yard field goal that fell short.
“Kaden has put in a ton of time working on kicking and punting,” said MHS football coach Jarad Kimbro. “He has a tremendous leg, so when we lined up for the kick there was no doubt in my mind that he was going to make it.”
The kick also helped Kimbro earn his first win as a varsity head coach.
“It was a humbling moment to help contribute to Coach Kimbro’s first win as head coach,” said Kimbro. “I look forward to keep working hard with the team as the season continues.”
Kimbro brushed off any celebratory attempts for himself.
“They (his payers) deserve all of the credit,” Kimbro said. “They played smart, physical football all night. We have several things from the film that we need to correct, but, like I said, they can all be fixed.”
Mattoon next takes on Effingham (1-2) this Friday.
“We know they are going to come out and play smash-mouth football for four quarters,” Kimbro said. “Each week we play more physically than the week before and that is one of the things that we are very excited about.”