SEARCY, Ark. — Several media members in the War Memorial Stadium press box had stopped what they were doing and were fixated on the field.
Harding Academy, winner of two straight Class 3A state titles, was warming up to play Prescott for yet another championship trophy.
But the big story during pregame in the Little Rock stadium’s sprawling press area was Wildcats junior kicker Kyle Ferrie. The left-footer was drilling kicks. The session culminated with a 61-yarder that landed halfway up in the end zone stands.
“He put on a show,” said River Valley Democrat-Gazette correspondent and The Almanac of Arkansas High School Football author Leland Barclay. “I stopped what I was doing and just started noting where the ball was landing. Half the press box was watching.
“I tweeted about it. I don’t think I have ever tweeted about a kicker, nor have I heard many stories about kickers. It was worth watching and very impressive.”
Ferrie routinely kicked long field goals in warmups last season and even made one from 65 yards against Newport, but he was particularly excited on this December afternoon as the Wildcats prepared to play the Curley Wolves.
“I always do one to distract the other team a little bit,” Ferrie said. “[Prescott head coach Brian Glass] was talking about me earlier in the week, and so I really wanted to make sure [Prescott] knew. They knew the ‘Cats were coming, and I wanted to make sure they knew we were there.”
Many of the media watching with open mouths wouldn’t have believed Ferrie had never kicked a football until the second semester of his ninth-grade year. After trying it out in the spring semester of the 2020 school year, he was the varsity kicker as a sophomore and nailed a 48-yarder that year.
“He has made this his craft,” Harding Academy head coach Neil Evans said. “This has become art for him. He’s thrown himself into this headfirst, like this is becoming a thing of beauty. It’s not some dragon he has to go slay. He’s not clutching this thing. [Kicking] has become who he is. Camps, stretching — everything is so specific. It has become who he is, and he just embraced it and said, ‘This is my deal.’ Everything in his life from a football perspective has lined up.”
That dedication has paid off as this summer, Ferrie, who has played four sports at Harding Academy, committed to Mississippi State as a combo kicker. He will be on full scholarship if he earns the kicking job next fall.
“Even before I started kicking, I wanted to play football at Mississippi State,” he said. “I didn’t know how I was going to, but I was going to. This is a dream come true.”
“Soccer was always the plan.”
In the late 1990s, Staci McCafferty was a college student at Harding University. She spent some of her time studying abroad in Scotland, where she met Colin Ferrie.