As a C-team back-up quarterback, Ben Hinson figured he was not going to get far.
“Our quarterback now, Grant DaVitte, was the quarterback and he was big, and I was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to beat him for the quarterback position. That’s when I decided to get serious about kicking,” said Hinson, who became the placekicker for the Irmo junior varsity as a freshman.
And the Irmo Yellow Jackets’ coaches have been thankful since.
“He’s been our most valuable player, and that’s not often you hear that about a kicker,” coach Bob Hanna said of Hinson, in his third and final season with the varsity. “He’s had an impact in every game and he’s flipped the field so many times for us.”
The 6-foot-3 senior has averaged 42.8 yards on 36 punts and posted 18 touchbacks out of 26 kickoffs for the Yellow Jackets.
With less than three minutes remaining in the game this past Friday against Ridge View, Hinson made his fifth field goal of the season, a 52-yarder that proved the game winner.
“Every kicker dreams of putting the team on his back and winning the game, so that was big,” Hinson said.
Although he was not carried off the field on his teammates’ shoulders like a movie ending, Hinson said his teammates understand his contribution.
“A lot of times, kickers are kind of like the castaways of the team, but it’s nice that my teammates appreciate me,” Hinson said.
How could they not, Hanna said.
“He does a lot by himself, but all his teammates recognize what he gives to the team on both sides of the ball,” Hanna said.
Hanna said Hinson’s poise and cool under pressure are as crucial to his success as his kicking leg.
That’s how Hinson was able to save the game against Lexington, when a bad snap into the end zone could have led to a game-winning safety, but instead Hinson scrambled to recover the ball and then got off a punt to the 50-yard line.
“He just takes advantage of every opportunity he gets,” said position coach John Gill. “And he’s very calm and focused. Friday night, with eight minutes to go, I told him it was going to come down to him.
“He said, ‘Coach, I’m not worried and I’m not bothered.’ That’s why I call him ‘Ice’,” Gill said.
Hinson has no reason not to be confident.
“They haven’t put me in a position yet where I’ve had to do something I didn’t think I could do,” Hinson said.
The 52-yard attempt landed at the base of the scoreboard more than 10 yards beyond the goalpost, Hanna said. He’s seen Hinson make 57- and 58- yard attempts in practice.
“I’ve made a 64-yard field goal in practice before, but that was with some wind at my back,” said Hinson. He said he is confident anywhere within 60 yards.
Now Hanna and Gill are hoping to help Hinson go farther.
“We really believe that he should go Division 1,” Gill said.
“Some team is going to be very happy with what he can do for them,” Hanna said.