Just for kicks
LEDGER – To the casual observer, it might appear Elliot Kadans has been kicking a football for years.
It would be an easy observation to make. Kadans, the primary kicker for Mitchell High School’s varsity football team, can be seen Friday nights routinely sending the ball flying through the back of the end zone for touchbacks on kickoffs and drilling extra-point attempts and field goals.
And, in truth, Kadans has been kicking for years. Just not a football.
Kadans comes from a deep soccer background. He grew up playing soccer and spent several seasons playing competitive league soccer in Charlotte, Boone and Asheville. He even had aspirations of playing college soccer.
“Before this year, soccer was my main focus,” Kadans said. “I had some smaller schools offer me for soccer.”
Using his powerful leg to play soccer was the focus for Kadans until he fell in love with the Friday night football atmosphere.
“The football culture is just different,” Kadans said. “I love it. I love how much hype surrounds it.”
And for Kadans, who hopes to kick for Appalachian State’s football team, his performance is generating plenty of hype.
Kadans has settled into his role as Mitchell’s starting kicker as a senior this season after spending the past two seasons on the varsity roster with smaller roles.
Kadans primarily handled kickoff duties as a sophomore during the 2017 season. He kicked off 100 times and averaged 50.5 yards per kick while causing 10 touchbacks. In relief of starting kicker Luis Velazquez, Kadans got some reps on extra points, converting on 13-of-15 attempts.
Kadans’ role grew as a junior this past season. He continued to become more effective on kickoffs, averaging 58 yards per kick on 84 attempts. He forced touchbacks on 58 of his kicks, suitable for a 69-percent touchback percentage.
As a junior, Kadans also became Mitchell’s primary kicker for extra points and field goals. He made 52-of-61 extra points and hit 2-of-3 field goals.
Through six games as a senior this season, Kadans is averaging 59.2 yards per kickoff attempt, and he has forced touchbacks on 37-of-44 kicks (84 percent).
In addition to kickoffs, Kadans also serves as the punter and placekicker. He has punted three times and is averaging 37 yards per punt while pinning one inside the 20-yard line.
Kadans has gone 34-for-35 on extra-point attempts and is 2-for-2 on field-goal attempts, and his 2,606 kickoff yards rank him seventh in the nation in that category, according to MaxPreps.
Kadans’ strong leg and kicking success come as no surprise to his head coach Travise Pitman.
“He’s a good threat for field goals,” Pitman said. “We knew that he could come in and be a force in our kicking game.”
Kadans’ strong leg has been quite a force in 2019 to the point of earning him an official visit Saturday, Sept. 28, to App State. Kadans was on the sideline for App State’s 56-37 win over visiting Coastal Carolina. He got to meet several of the team’s coaches and experience the gameday atmosphere in Boone – something he said drives him to the program.
“That’s where my parents went, so I grew up on the App culture,” Kadans said. “Their football is crazy now.”
Kadans said he also plans to visit Western Carolina and may consider other programs, but App State is still at the top of his list.
In the meantime, Kadans is focused on perfecting the timing of his kicks and staying sharp as he prepares for his next chapter.
Kicking, he said, is still kicking, regardless of what kind of ball is used or where it’s done.
“Kicking is just a muscle-memory thing,” he said. “When you do it more, you get better at it. You can’t just learn to kick overnight. You have to keep doing it, and I’ve loved every second of it.”