Hico – Midland Trail football coach Frank Isaacs loves offense.
Under his guidance, the Patriots have become a mainstay in the Class A playoffs behind a vast array of formations and up-tempo play.
One thing Isaacs does not like is kicking the football, especially punting.
“I guess I am just stingy. It’s high school and I am not getting paid millions of dollars to win games. If I lose a football game, I lose a football game. So, let’s go out there and have fun,” Isaacs said. “Being a play caller, I liked knowing I was going to go for it on third and fourth down. It helped me call plays differently.”
The unorthodox approach had its advantages in Isaacs’ early days on the Trail sideline.
“There were some coaches that it took by surprise,” Isaacs said. “They weren’t sure how to react to it and wondered what we were actually going to do. Were we going to pass it, run it, or were we indeed going to kick it? (Assistant head) coach (Jeremy) Moore kept telling me that I was killing him. But, at the same time, he was the offensive line coach and he didn’t want to say we couldn’t make it. I had him in a little bit of a spot.”
Being somewhat unorthodox was only part of the issue for Trail. The main reason that Isaacs was not in favor of kicking most of the time was actually pretty simple.
“We really didn’t have a kicker per se. We had an athlete back there that could catch it and we hoped he could kick it,” Isaacs said.
This year Isaacs has had a change of heart and the decision to kick the football will not be as difficult.
“We have a really good kicker in Talon Shockey. Not only is he our place kicker, he is also going to punt for us this year,” Isaacs said. “He went to the McCullough Kicking and Punting Camp and performed really well up there. For Class A, he is a great punter. To be honest, I would put him up against anybody in Class AAA as far as place kicking goes.”
Prior to high school, Shockey had primarily been a soccer player. His only football experience was in Little League football which he gave up to play soccer.
“I have played soccer ever since I was four years old and it was the sport that I loved,” Shockey said.
Heading into his freshman year of high school, the football team was in desperate need of his kicking ability.
“We really didn’t have a kicker, so they asked me to kick. During my freshman year, my dad just told me to kick it like a soccer ball and I would be fine,” Shockey said, with a chuckle.
Although he had a solid season as a freshman, Shockey knew more work had to be done to be a successful kicker going forward.
“As I went on, I realized there was a little more to it than just kicking it like a soccer ball. I went to a bunch of camps and looked stuff up on the internet to learn better technique,” Shockey said. “I watched a bunch of YouTube videos to learn how to kick better. There is nothing you can’t find on YouTube.
Shockey was also willing to put in the work to hone his craft.
“I went out and kicked every day after school and after football practice. “I went to a Kohl’s kicking camp up in Morgantown and learned a lot of stuff. It showed me what I needed to fix,” Shockey said.
Shockey also recently went to the WV Specialist Combine at Robert C. Byrd High School for the National Kicking Rankings with Matt McCullough.
While at the combine, Shockey said it helped him realize he could kick with some of the best place kickers in West Virginia.
The combine was also beneficial to Shockey when it came to his punting ability.
“We needed someone to learn the position, so this will be my first year punting. I really didn’t know anything about it,” Shockey said. “The kicker from Princeton University was at the combine and he really helped me. On my good days, I can punt it 40 or 50 yards.”
With Trail expected to have one of it’s strongest defenses in years, Shockey will not only be a key weapon for points, he will also help Trail control field position.
“I told the defensive coordinator, which is his dad as well, to make me use him. I still get a little stingy and want to keep the ball,” Isaacs said, laughing. “We are definitely going to use Talon and I feel he is one of the best ones in the state. He will be a weapon for us.”