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Happy Valley's Harrah puts the 'foot' in football

Joe Avento • Aug 5, 2018 at 4:54 PM

For a lot of high school football teams, kicking and punting are afterthoughts, something to work on toward the end of practice.

That’s not the case at Happy Valley, where the Warriors are counting on Michael Harrah to give opponents the boot.

“Michael’s a weapon that really can change the game at the high school level,” Happy Valley head coach Jason Jarrett said. “Not a lot of teams are blessed to have a kicker like Michael, so we expect a really good year out of him.”

Harrah has only been kicking for three years, but he’s made long strides since he tried out for the team as a sophomore. He’s been to several kicking camps and has been rated as high as a four-star kicker at one.

“He has a really strong leg,” Jarrett said. “He’s still learning and getting better every day. He’s improving each and every year. We’re just looking for consistency.”

Harrah is the team’s place-kicker and punter. He seems to be enjoying punting the most these days, especially since he’s built like a punter standing 6-foot-4 and possessing long legs.

“That’s the main reason my kicking coach wanted me to become a punter,” he said.

With the Warriors fielding a young team this year, field position might even be a little more important than usual. That’s where Harrah can be the team’s ace in the hole.

“We have to use him as a weapon,” Jarrett said. “As an offense, you obviously don’t want to punt. But when you have to punt, it better be your best offensive play in the playbook. You have to flip the field, force people to drive long distances.

“We really take pride in our defense so we don’t want to have our defense with their backs against the wall. Same thing with kickoffs. We hope they have to go 80 yards instead of 50 yards after a return.

“Field position is going to be crucial. A lot of times, when your special teams are at the top of their game, that’s going to lead to a win at any level.”

Harrah says his main goal is to make most, if not all, of his extra points this year. When he’s punting, he worries more about hang time than distance.

“Whenever you’ve been working hard at something and you reach that goal like a 50-yard punt with five-second hang time or make your longest field goal, that makes it worth it,” he said.

Harrah proved he can handle the pressure that comes with the position. His biggest kick came when he was a sophomore when his last-second field goal beat Hampton in front of a standing-room-only crowd at J.C. Campbell Stadium.

“The main thing was I couldn’t get nervous because I didn’t kick at all that game,” he said. “I wasn’t doing kickoffs or punts yet. The main thing was to try to relax. I don’t even remember kicking the ball to be honest with you, it was so surreal.”

Harrah was asked if having that performance packed away in his memory bank would help him the next time he was called upon to win a game.

“I’m not really sure,” he said. “I’ll tell you when it happens again.”

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