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 BY JEFF FALK

 ANNVILLE – Is Mac Plummer a soccer player playing football? Or is he a football player playing soccer?

 While it may be that only time will tell, it could come down to which one the Annville-Cleona junior gets the most kicks out of. Either way, it’s nice to have options.

  Plummer is a proficient and prolific kicker for both the Little Dutchmen boys’ soccer and football teams. Not only does whatever Plummer boot go far, it also goes straight.

 Two weeks ago, during the first quarter of Annville-Cleona football team’s season opener against Milton Hershey, Plummer drilled a 51-yard field goal. Not only did that represent a Lebanon County and Lancaster-Lebanon League record, it was one of the longest field goals in the history of District Three.

 But that’s just the beginning. Plummer has also been one of the main cogs in the Little Dutchmen’s 3-0 start to the boys’ soccer season.

 “I get that question a lot,” said Plummer. “It’s a tough choice. Soccer is something I’ve been doing my whole life. I just picked up football a year ago, but it’s a big enjoyment. It’s just a really hard decision for me to make.

 “I don’t know,” continued Plummer. “I love both. I’ve got to see what happens and how I do in both this year. I haven’t put that much thought into it yet.”

  “I love watching him play soccer,” said Annville-Cleona football coach Matt Gingrich. “In 50 states, they play soccer, and he is a good soccer player. But there are very few kids who can kick a football the way he does. I’d be very surprised if he doesn’t end up playing football in college. The goal is to have a choice. You’ll put yourself in a better position if you do.”

 Not unlike a lot of soccer players turned football kickers, Plummer grew up playing the former. Through the coaxing of Gingrich, Plummer’s been kicking pigskins since the beginning of last season.

 What’s surprising is how far Plummer’s come in such a short period of time. He’s improved his place kicking, kicking off and now punting by learning technique, applying it and by becoming stronger.

 “I’ve always played soccer. My friends play it,” said Plummer. “Usually, he (Gingrich) likes to pick out some soccer player to do the kicking. He came up to me during my sophomore year and asked me, ‘Would you like to kick some after school today?’. I couldn’t kick a ball worth a darn that day, but I’ve been going to (place kicking) camps and I’ve gotten better.

 “They’re both a big passion of mine,” added Plummer. “Coach Gingrich brought me out my sophomore year and it was one of the biggest opportunities I’ve ever gotten. It’s hard to imagine my life without both.”

 “Last year, he was a 60 percent kicker on a kicking scale. This year’s he’s at 90 percent,” said Gingrich. “He’s improved that much. The biggest thing with him is his confidence. It’s greater than it was last year. In August of last year, he had never kicked a football before. When he kicks a football, it’s just a different sound.”

 Gingrich’s confidence in Plummer’s improvement manifested itself on August 23rd during A-C’s road contest on the turf of Henry Hershey Field. Plummer’s field goal from 51 yards away late in the opening quarter was true, and at the time it gave the Little Dutchmen a 9-7 lead over the home-standing Spartans.

 Last season at home against Elco, Plummer had booted a 45-yard field goal off grass.

 “I started to see that it was going to be fourth down,” said Plummer. “My adernaline was pumping. I heard coach Gingrich yell, ‘Field goal.’ I got set up and I kicked it. I got tackled to the ground so I didn’t see it go through the goal posts. I just heard the crowd erupt, and then my teammates tackled me.

 “You can tell when it comes off your foot,” Plummer continued. “When I kicked it, it just felt right. It was just the best experience ever. I was at a (kicking) camp at Nashville and they do this competition where you can’t miss two field goals, and I won it with a 58-yard field goal.”

  “I saw him kicking in pre-game,” said Gingrich. “I thought to myself, ‘If we ever get into that area, I’m going to let him try it.’ There was no, ‘Do you think you can make it?’ I just told him, ‘Go get your butt in there.’ He had nothing to lose. I have as much trust in him as I do anybody.”

 But his length and accuracy are just two of the things that make Plummer such a dangerous football weapon.

 In addition to being three-for-three on field goals, Plummer has recorded five touchbacks on nine kickoffs this season. Even that’s a noticeable improvement over a sophomore campaign in which he went three-for-four on field goals and registered four touchbacks.

  “It’s just a lot of practice,” said Plummer. “By going to these camps, I’ve learned new techniques. Things like how you want to kick the ball and where your feet need to be. A lot of that has helped me progress. We work on our steps. You want to have the same exact steps every single time you kick.

  “I think the most important part is just helping the team put points on the board,” Plummer added, “and getting wins on Friday nights. We just want to do the best we can. It’s all about the team.”

  “The biggest thing to me is that we have not given up a touchdown when he has gotten touchbacks on kick-offs,” said Gingrich. “I love his extra points. I love his field goals. But that’s the biggest advantage we get out of his kicking.

 “I’ve had a couple of good kickers,” added Gingrich. “The big thing I’m concerned about is, ‘Can he last the whole season?’ If we can control the whole year, then we’re in the big time. I have seen distance, but I’ve never seen this kind of consistent distance.”

 Plummer is not a big dude. He’s 5-8, 150 pounds. But he generates remarkable power and force when he swings his right leg.

 “It’s basically leg power,” said Plummer. “I work with a trainer and we do a bunch of leg stuff, upper body stuff and core stuff. When you kick, your core bends, and you have to keep your balance to be able to kick the ball.

 “In soccer, you kick the ball differently,” continued Plummer. “If you want to bend it, you have to curve your foot to get that spin. In football, you want to kick it in the sweet spot every time.”

 “The one thing I’ve learned is that kicking is like a golf swing,” said Gingrich. “You’re hitting it like a golf ball. What it comes down to is flexibility and the ability to generate torque. He’s able to turn his hips.”

 Plummer and the Annville-Cleona boys’ soccer team are off to an equally fast start. During the Little Dutchmen’s three wins, Plummer has generated a staggering seven goals and three assists.

 “My goal for the team would be to win the section (Four of the Lancaster-Lebanon League) championship,” said Plummer. “I want this to be the year we get it. I just want to try to help the team out and do the best I can. Because they’re doing the best they can to help me.

 “Usually, right after school, I come out here (football practice) and work on technique,” added Plummer. “Then I go straight to soccer. I practice with them for two hours. It can be hard some days, but we get it done.”

  “His family has invested in the time, going to camps,” said Gingrich. “You’re starting to see the evolution of it. He wants to kick at the next level, so he has to become more flexible. If you can generate that power, it can be valuable. We’ll work on his strengths, but he’s got to become more flexible.”

 

 

 To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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