Watch Now: Declan Duley’s Mighty Leg Is Valuable To The College High School Football Team | High school football
NORMAL – Jorden Jones Thomas of Decatur Eisenhower stood with his heels a few inches from the goal line in the south end zone of Hancock Stadium and reached as high as possible for the approaching football to see the kickoff of University High’s Declan Duley climb a few feet above his fingers for yet another touchback.
As a frustrated Jones Thomas trotted back to his sideline, the value of Duley’s powerful leg became even more evident.
Duley’s booming kickoffs would produce six touchdowns in Friday’s 41-0 Pioneers win, with his seventh boot lined up by Jones Thomas at the 1-yard line.
“Hitting him in the end zone consistently is huge, freezing them on the 20 every time,” U High coach Brody Walworth said. “And his two baskets… It makes third and long-range calls a lot easier when you’re in range.
“You can be a little more secure and not just try to cut it. It’s a great weapon to have. We’re lucky to have it.”
Duley also drilled 42 and 28 yard baskets to help the Pioneers improve their season record to 3-4.
“It’s amazing to come out here for the comeback home,” Duley said. “It’s such a special feeling. We won as a team. It was a good game. “
Duley also missed the shot on a 53-yard field goal try as “operating errors” contributed to the failed kick. “But in the end, he didn’t come in. It does not matter. We still won the game and still had a good time. “
All three basket attempts were welcome. Duley’s only previous field goal attempt this season was a successful 43-yard try against Decatur MacArthur.
Walworth believes his junior kicker has college-level abilities. “If not, I’d love to see what it is,” said the U High coach.
“Absolutely, that’s the dream,” said Duley, 6-foot-2, 200-pounder. “I just want to play Division I football. Just thinking about it feels good.
Kohl’s Kicking ranked Duley as a five-star punter and ranked fourth nationally in this position. The respected camp lists Duley as a four-star kicker.
Interest in recruiting has been a bit slow so far, as college coaches typically focus on junior players before turning to specialists.
Duley will travel to Michigan on October 30. “I’m thrilled for this,” he said.
“I guess it’s being a junior,” Walworth said. “Because of the COVID year, all of these super seniors stayed. So everyone’s recruiting classes are kinda awesome. They are just behind the recruitment of juniors in general.
At 3-4, U High still has a five-game winning streak and playoff consideration with two games to go. However, this path is a journey strewn with pitfalls.
U High will travel to Springfield on Friday to take on Sacred Heart-Griffin, the No. 2 ranked team in 4A. The Pioneers then close the regular season on October 22 at home against Rochester, the No. 1 team in 5A.
“We’re still going to come out here like any other game,” said U High fullback / linebacker Bronson Moeller. “We have to work a little harder in training and work our butt and try to get this win.”
Walworth wants to end his first season as Pioneer coach on a positive note, whether it be a win or a loss.
“Our goal all year round is to try to improve each week. In games where we blew ourselves up, there were a lot of unforced errors on our part, ”said Walworth. “I didn’t think these teams were 40 points better than us. It doesn’t matter who is on the schedule. It really is about us.
“We know SHG is awesome, and we know Rochester is awesome. We will put a plan and work hard. We are not going to sit down and accept that we are going to get beaten up before we walk on the pitch. I do not believe it. It’s part of what we’re trying to build from a program perspective.
The U High coach is delighted with the tough challenges the Central State Eight Conference is throwing for his team.
“I came here to play some of the best competitions in the state,” said Walworth. “I expect us to go out there and challenge these two teams with everything we’ve got.”
Photos: U High mauls Eisenhower football team
Watch now: U High makes its debut
Watch Now: Moeller Bulls 2 Yards For U High Touchdown
Watch now: Duley throws 42-yard field goal for U High
Watch now: Brody Walworth discusses U High’s win
Contact Randy Reinhardt at (309) 820-3403. Follow him on Twitter: pg_reinhardt