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North Hall senior kicker Luke Brown putting together storybook season after dealing with myriad injuries in 2020
Luke Brown
North Hall kicker Luke Brown attempts a 60-yard field goal during practice Sept. 28, 2021 at Lynn Cottrell Stadium. Photo by Bill Murphy III

Three steps back. 

Then two to the left. 

Lastly, a deep breath before anticipating the snap, hold and going through with the kick. 

Those are the habits that have sustained North Hall senior kicker Luke Brown through a highlight-filled season for the Trojans (3-2, 1-0 Region 7-3A). 

It might sound simple, but kicking is an incredibly difficult art to master. 

However, Brown has endured his fair share of ups and downs away from the field to enjoy and appreciate his God-given ability to boot a football further than most kids who play the same position in the country. 

After an injury-marred junior season, following a devastating leg injury after his sophomore season, the 6-foot-2 kicker with a sturdy frame was left questioning if he would ever get back to his previous form and go on to kick in college. 

But these last few weeks, the aspiring meteorologist has made it clear that he’s back and better than ever. 

“It feels great to finally be back to 100 percent,” said Brown, who is 5 of 6 on field goals this season.

“It’s great to see that joy back in his eyes again,” Trojans coach David Bishop said. 

In fact, each of the past two games has come with an unforgettable memory, which is helping the Trojans who are running neck and neck with Cherokee Bluff (5-0, 1-0) as the top two contenders for the region title. 

In Week 5, Brown stepped in and drilled a walk-off, game-winning 43-yard field goal against Chestatee — a kick with enough leg that it would have probably been true from 60. 

“As soon as it went through, my teammates formed a dog pile on me,” Brown said. “It was crazy. That’s my best memory of my high school career.”

He pointed out a lot of credit for success kicking goes to his holder Bradford Puryear, who is also starting quarterback, and starting left fielder for the defending Class 3A state champions in baseball. 

And last week, the outcome of the game was never in question, but Brown booted a successful 51-yarder against West Hall that benefited from a fortuitous bounce off the bottom of the goal post that kicked back for 3 points. 

Bishop said Brown’s 51-yarder is the longest successful kick in his 20 years with the school, but was not sure if it’s a school record for the program that goes back to 1958. 

Bishop isn’t just proud of Brown for the tangible impact he’s made on the field for North Hall. 

North Hall’s coach was right there, trying to pick his kicker up, after his initial kicking-leg injury was remedied but a developing back problem was never addressed. 

In 2020, Brown said the season opener against Paulding County was the only time all season he felt 100 percent. 

Then the sharp back pains started to manifest, becoming clear quickly it wasn’t something he could simply power through. 

When the pain was at its worst, Brown said he could only do short field goals and extra points, a far cry from having the highlight reel that would get high-level college attention. 

Late in the season, Brown was completely unable to play, as a junior, against Dawson County. 

Bishop could sense that Brown’s confidence was starting to wane. 

They had many one-on-one conversations about simply doing the best he could kicking. 

“I saw Luke get very much down on himself,” Bishop said. “I would tell him, ‘all you can do is give it your best. We’re going to support you, regardless.”

Brown soaked up Bishop’s words. 

He loved football too much to not go to every length imaginable to have a great senior season. 

So, after the 2020 season ended, North Hall’s kicker didn’t touch a football for about five months, giving his ailing back time to heal. 

Then, in the spring, he started getting his confidence back, little by little. 

The field goal tries got longer for Brown. 

And they were sailing through more often than not. 

On Tuesday, Brown had a particularly good day. 

Starting with kicks of around 40 yards, he was nailing them with ease. 

For his final attempts, he put the ball down on the midfield logo — 60 yards — and the second made it through the uprights. 

Brown said it was just the second time he’s been good from 60 in practice. 

The Trojans’ accuracy makes strategy easy for Bishop on fourth down with the ball inside the 35 of the opposition. 

In the second preseason game, Brown drilled a 50-yarder at Flowery Branch, with plenty of room to spare. 

“I feel like if we get it down to the 35, we’re going to take a shot at the field goal,” Bishop said. 

Brown’s success hasn’t gone unnoticed outside of Hall County. 

On Saturday, he’ll be an invited prospect, along with his highly-recruited teammate Jeremiah Telander, to the University of Georgia for the game against Arkansas. 

He’s excited to have the opportunity to go on the field before the game and mingle with some of the players, one of whom is North Hall graduate Dan Jackson, a walk-on who now plays regularly at free safety for the Bulldogs. 

Unlike the junior linebacker Telander, Brown isn’t realistically expecting a scholarship offer from Georgia. 

However, there’s no school where Brown would rather play for than Georgia. 

He’s been following the Bulldogs since around age 3 or 4, which means his first exposure to the Bulldogs would have been around the 2007 season when Georgia demolished Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl. 

Still, football is only one part of this avid outdoorsman’s life. 

He’s an exemplary student, taking a full load of IB courses at North Hall and he has a 4.35 GPA. 

If he follows through and attends the University of Georgia, and is fortunate enough to be able to also play football, his major will be either meteorology or atmospheric science. 

Friday’s games

Cherokee Bluff vs. West Hall

Chestatee vs. North Oconee

East Hall vs. Jefferson

North Hall vs. White County

Gainesville at Lambert

Johnson at Walnut Grove

Lakeview Academy vs. Fellowship Christian

Lanier Christian at Victory Baptist

Riverside Military vs. Union County

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