Midland's Molina has made every kick
ONA -- Christopher Molina spends most of Cabell Midland's football practice sitting on a bench, cleated foot propped up on his helmet, watching drills.
Then, for a handful of minutes, he has all his teammates behind him screaming in his ears as he hits field goal after field goal from farther and farther away. One from 50 yards out hits the crossbar. He tries again from the same distance, and it splits the uprights.
The one miss doesn't bother him. It's just practice.
In fact, Molina sees far more action during Midland's games, in which the Knights' high-powered offense has scored so much, Molina has had to kick nine and 10 extra points per game, more than some kickers might see all season.
So far, he's perfect. He's 42-for-42 on extra points, and 1-for-1 on field goals, hitting a 47-yard kick in a 52-19 drubbing of Riverside back on Sept. 7.
"It's just something that's kind of happened," Molina said of the streak. "I just go out there and try to get the points for the team. Like coach says, special teams makes or breaks the game, so I try to do the best I can."
His 2-2 effort was the difference in the 14-13 win over Huntington High when both teams were rated No. 1 in West Virginia AAA football on Sept. 21. The Highlanders had an extra point blocked.
Now the Knights (7-0) are alone at No. 1, and heading into a Friday showdown at No. 12 Capital (4-2).
In the world of high school football where special teams aren't always featured, and where players who play other positions kick or teams simply go for a two-point conversion, Midland head coach Luke Salmons said having a kicker such as Molina is a luxury.
"When I started in (Lawrence County) Kentucky, we didn't have a guy, and we worked on it daily. We did everything we could to try to develop one, more than anybody probably in the state, because I know the importance of it, but it didn't work out," Salmons said. "Just to know that you have a guy, that that's what he does is kick, it's awesome.
"Last year he won a lot of games for us with his (extra points) and field goals. He's gotten even better this year."
Salmons said the best assets Molina brings to the team are his consistency and his focus.
"He kicks the ball straight, he kicks the ball quick and he doesn't get rattled," Salmons said. "We have a lot of faith in him, and he's a good kid."
Molina comes from a line of semi-legendary Cabell Midland kickers. His older sister Samantha kicked for the football team while also playing soccer, and his older brother Alex kicked for the Knights his senior year.
And Christopher probably won't be the last Molina to tee the ball up or line up behind a holder for Cabell Midland.
"There are two behind me," he said. "We're going to have Molinas kicking for Cabell Midland for a long time."
Of course, any time the spotlight is on a specialist such as a kicker, the age-old question creeps in: are kickers football players?
Molina has made two tackles this year, including one in the Huntington High game. Salmons pointed out that his kicker made a tackle in practice that injured running back Kasey Thomas before the season started. Yet Molina waffled on the question.
"Yeah, they're football players, but. ... well, they're an important part of the game at times. Yeah, just coming from a kicker, they're football players," he said.
Salmons had no reservations on the subject, at least when it comes to Molina.
"Yeah, absolutely they're football players," Salmons said. "I mean, I know sometimes kickers can be a little different, but Molina isn't. He likes the game, he's very athletic and he can tackle. He's an athlete. If you're going to be a good kicker, you're going to be a good athlete."