What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of an american football player? A 6 foot 4″ QB with the ability to drop back and/or scramble? The giants of the trenches both protecting and attacking the offensive skills players? Athletic and rangy receivers and defensive backs? The chances are when you say ball player, the first thing to come to mind isn’t likely to be a 5′ 7″ 175 lb physique.
That’s one of the great things about this game. There are so many different skill sets needed, so many areas where so many people of different shapes and sizes can come together. I’ve been on record before saying how much I love special teams play. So it’s no surprise that Ottawa’s rookie kicker has caught the eye.
Lewis Ward, the aforementioned 5′ 7″ 175 lb player is off to a phenomenal start to his CFL career. Over the first seven games of the season he has gone 22 of 23 on Field goals, and connected on his last 19 straight attempts. Imagine the confidence that gives the RedBlacks. Once they get inside the opponents 50 they must think they’re coming away with some points. Ward’s longest kick so far may only be a 47 yarder, but inside that he is clearly a safe bet.
A couple of weeks ago Ward had a big night in Hamilton, hitting seven of seven field goals and recording all of Ottawa’s 21 points in a win over the Tiger-Cats. Those numbers have already seen him set a franchise record for most field goals made in a single game.
The psychology of kicking fascinates me. A kicker can seem isolated for much of the game and then all the pressure of winning the game can fall on their shoulders. You feel too that it’s a position people often overlook. There are a lot of physical skills involved but surely when game time comes it’s about who can keep a level head and convert practice success in to game time points. It seems Lewis Ward is just such a player.
I’ve seen plenty of ex-pros blame the kicker for a loss in ‘the ultimate team game’, but it’s not often they are exalted for hitting what some regard as routine kicks repeatedly. It’s when you see non-kickers trying it that you often realise how much skill is truly involved in the seemingly mundane art of the kick.
I like to think a truly great kicker understands the art, science and physical technique of what they are doing. As Ward is proving, size doesn’t matter here. He has the skills and the temperament to get the job done.
We don’t know how his pro football career will end, but we do know Lewis Ward’s CFL career could barely have started any better & it’s going to be fun watching where it goes from here.
Image from https://www.ottawaredblacks.com/