Try 1 month for 99¢

Josh Jostes was going through his depth chart on a Thursday afternoon less than a week after coaching Maroa-Forsyth to its third straight Class 2A state championship game.

One by one, Jostes removed the seniors from their positions and took stock of who is going to step in to replace them next season.

One of the biggest voids Jostes will have to fill is often the most overlooked position on the field: Placekicker.

For four years, he's had one of the best in the area: Reilly Fitzpatrick. As far as automatic goes, she was pretty stinkin' close. Fitzpatrick was 80 of 82 this season and Jostes remembers the two — one was a bad hold and one was after Fitzpatrick had already made double-digit PATs that game.

Before you think Jostes is making an excuse for the lone female player on his team, think again. Football is about winning at Maroa. If Fitzpatrick couldn't do the job, Jostes would have benched her. If she didn't kick a PAT at more than an 80 percent clip, math would tell Jostes to just go for two points after touchdowns, and he's done that before.

Fitzpatrick wasn't just on the team just for the sake of having a female player. She was tremendously valuable for the Trojans.

The 21-20 win against Athens in Week 7? You guessed it. Fitzpatrick had the game-winning point.

Her 80 PATs this season ranks sixth all time according to IHSA records. She also ranks sixth all time with 202 career PATs and at one point had knocked in 50 consecutive this season.

"This year she was as good as anybody I’ve ever seen," Jostes said. "... She was by far the most automatic I’ve had."

Jostes never needed to say much to her. He'd try to rattle her while she kicked every here and again, but Fitzpatrick, who also ranks near the top of her class, plays soccer and is in the band, wasn't fazed.

Eighty times this season, Fitzpatrick ran to the sideline after knocking in a point after and Jostes was simple in his message, "Atta girl," and accompanied it with a low-five, fitting for Fitzpatrick, who stands at 5-foot-3.

+5 
Fitzpatrick_Reilly 3 09.07.17.JPG

Maroa-Forsyth head coach Josh Jostes high fives kicker Reilly Fitzpatrick after a point after against New Berlin last month. 

Football is just the jumping off point for Fitzpatrick. Jostes estimated five girls played flag football this season. Is that directly related to seeing Fitzpatrick on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons in the playoffs?

"I'm sure," Jostes said.

Defensive coordinator Jon Kidd's daughters are part of the swarm of girls who saw Fitzpatrick trot out for point-after attempts every night for four years. For them, seeing a girl on the football field is simply a normalcy. Nothing to see here except a kicker with an automatic right foot.

They signed up to play flag football, too.

For four years, football was business for Fitzpatrick. She's smart, and she's humble. She was there to kick, and her leg was a part of the reason Maroa-Forsyth has gone to three straight state championship games.

"She gets the big picture and worries about what she can control, which is her making kicks," Jostes said. "She does her own thing. She's a great kid."

As far as the depth chart? Jostes noticed three underclassmen shadowing Fitzpatrick this season to learn her routine. "Listen to whatever she says," he told them.

There's a legacy she left on the football field — Fitzpatrick was a lights-out placekicker for a dynasty high school program.

Then there's the legacy that she left when girls fill a football field to play flag football. And, really, that's the big, indelible mark on a football-rich community.

Subscribe to Breaking News

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Contact Joey Wagner at (217) 421-6970. Follow him on Twitter: @mrwagner25

0
0
0
0
0

Reporter

Reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

Load comments