There are few, very few, high school football teams that have the luxury of a reliable kicker. An exception this season is Liberty.
The No. 14 Lions (3-0) put seven touchdowns on the scoreboard Saturday afternoon against Mount Hebron and all seven were followed by a successful extra point from junior kicker Luke Vriezen. They all look the same, right smack in the middle of the uprights and long enough to keep the ball boy busy for awhile.
The week before, when the Lions rattled off 41 points in a win against Atholton, one of the biggest plays on a night full of them came without the Lions scoring a point. That's when Vriezen was a foot or two short on a 52-yard field goal try.
"He didn't hit that as well as he could," said Liberty coach Ken Johnson.
"The line is right around the 35. We can treat it like a punt; if it goes in the end zone, it comes out at the 20 or else we can down it."
The Lions' dominating offense hasn't provided Vriezen with a lot of field goal attempts -- the 52-yard near-make has been it so far in three wins -- but he's been plenty busy with the PATs (16-for-18) and kickoffs. His kickoffs consistently land around the 5- or 10-yard line and are high enough to allow the special teams coverage to get downfield and do its thing.
"We're usually keeping them inside their 20, and that's pretty good," Vriezen said. "We can then get a three-and-out and get the ball back around the 50, which makes it easier to go in and score a touchdown."
Ask Vriezen what position he plays and he'll tell you he's a tight end first and the kicking duties come second. The Lions are a run-oriented team, so Vriezen's main responsibility is blocking, but he also showed he can catch the ball on Saturday with a 30-yard touchdown catch.
"At tight end, he's a heckuva blocker and an integral part of our offense," Johnson said.
After eight years of playing soccer, Vriezen was looking for a change and decided on football in the ninth grade. The kicking was a bonus.
"Football is a little more physical, and that's what I was looking for. I have more fun hitting people," Vriezen said. "When I was a freshman, they needed someone to kick off, so I did, and have been doing it ever since. All those years kicking the soccer ball helped. It's the same technique, except you have to get under a football a bit more to get it up in the air."
The Lions' lopsided wins in the early season haven't put a lot of pressure on Vriezen when he's lining up for extra points or field goals, but he's confident he'll be ready when pressure time arrives.
"It's all about getting the snaps and holds down and then just concentration. You just have to block everything else out and think what you're doing," Vriezen said. "Hopefully, I can win a game like that some day."