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Coventry football boosted by girl power in kicking game

Andy Harris
Suburbanite correspondent

COVENTRY TWP. High school football teams having a female place kicker is nothing new. Ditto for teams having multiple players handle the kicking duties. But a team with two girls holding down field goal and extra point duties ... well, that's definitely unusual.

Welcome to the 2020 season for the Coventry Comets, who sit at 3-2 through five weeks and could host a playoff game in just over a week.

First-year head coach Mike Zografos inherited a team with some playmakers and a solid amount of variety experience, but without an established place kicker.

Enter Coventry seniors Alexis Wearstler and Morgan Ross.

"We've played soccer together since (youth), but the varsity coach came to our soccer coach and was like, 'Hey, do you have any girls who want to kick?', so we tried out and it kind of just happened," Wearstler said.

For Ross, joining the team moved her from the stands on Friday nights to the middle of the action.

"I've always gone (to games) since I'm in band too, so I've always been in the stands," Ross said.

The offense has given Ross and Wearstler plenty of chances to show off their kicking skills. Through five games, the Comets are averaging 31.4 points per game and have won three of their last four outings.

The results have been solid, as Wearstler has converted 9 of 11 extra points and Ross has made 6 of 8. At nearly 79 percent, they've given the Comets a reliable kicking game that puts points on the board.

"They've done an excellently job," Zografos said. "They've been working out and I know Alexis has a kicking coach she works with. The biggest thing for them is kicking through the ball and obviously it's different kicking a soccer ball instead of a football, but they're pretty much automatic with us and we have all in the world in them on any kick from 30 yards in."

When he started his quest to find a kicker, Zografos went to the boys soccer team first, but didn't find any interested players. He then went to the girls team and had six players who tried out. Wearstler and Ross stood out as seniors even though all six kicked well, and now they alternate with one another kicking extra points and field goals.

"So exciting, especially days like this where they keep getting touchdowns and we keep getting to go out there with them (to kick extra points)," Wearstler said.

Both girls remain on the soccer team and are team captains there. As part of their two-sport arrangement, they have some busy days, and also are directed to avoid contact if at all possible on the for all field.

"Last Friday, Friday Alexis asked if she could do a kickoff, but I have agreement with soccer coach to avoid contact, so I told her absolutely not," Zografos said with a laugh.

Playing two sports at once isn't easy, but both girls have found a way to fit it all in and still do their best for both squads.

"Usually after soccer practice we would go straight to football and then Friday we have our soccer practice and come out and play the game with them," Ross said.

Wearstler and Ross can almost always be seen standing together on the sideline during games, waiting their chance to kick again. As they and their teammates prepare for what will be the program's first playoff game in more than a decade, there's a good chance they'll be called upon to deliver in a big moment or two.

If and when that happens, they'll do so for a team that is confident that their new kickers will split the uprights and continue to make the most of their history-making run on the gridiron.

Coventry senior Alexis Wearstler boots an extra point during last week's win against Springfield. Wearstler, who is also a captain on the girls soccer team, shares kicking duties with fellow soccer teammate Morgan Ross.
Coventry senior Morgan Ross boots an extra point during last week's win against Springfield. Ross, who is also a captain on the girls soccer team, shares kicking duties with fellow soccer teammate Alexis Wearstler.