Josh Cupitt tried to sneak onto the field last week during Exeter's Senior Night game. Just for old times' sake, he figured, it would've been nice to line up at wide receiver and run a pass route.

Coach Matt Bauer nixed the idea. He knows Cupitt, who punts and kicks off, is too valuable to the playoff-bound Eagles to risk an injury.

Cupitt and Sean Henry, who handles field goals and PATs, have evolved into the best tag team this side of the WWE and give Exeter a leg up on its competition.

Cupitt has emerged as one of the top punters in the Berks Football League; he's booming the ball at a 37.8-yard clip and is adept at dropping it inside the 20 or keeping it away from dangerous return men.

Henry is having a season for the ages as a placekicker: He's been good on each of his six field goals and is 32-for-32 on PATs. It's possible no Berks kicker has ever put together a perfect regular season quite like this, a strong statement in what has become a hotbed for kickers.

"(We realize) how lucky we were to get them," said Bauer. "On any other team in the county, except for Conrad Weiser (where All-Berks punter/kicker Matt Noll plays), they'd be doing all the kicking and punting. They're definitely tremendous weapons for us."

It's a rare situation at the high school level to have two kickers as good as they are splitting special teams duties.

Each is capable of doing the other's job: Cupitt nailed 12-of-13 PATs when Henry missed several games in September with a strained groin. Cupitt once made a 60-yard field goal during a workout at Don Thomas Stadium. Henry could handle the punting if needed.

That's one of the tenets of kicking guru John Zima's philosophy: Kickers should be competent at both skills. That makes them more valuable to college programs, and Henry and Cupitt, both seniors, are on the radar of numerous colleges. Each could earn a partial scholarship and/or be put in position to earn a full scholarship by performing at the college level.

Neither saw that coming a few years ago.

Henry played soccer through his sophomore season at Exeter. He also played football for the first time that season. He immediately realized he had a knack for kicking footballs, sought Zima's guidance in the offseason, then excelled at camps the following spring and summer.

He won the kicking competition at the Berks County Combine before his junior and senior seasons. He showed why two weeks ago against Gov. Mifflin when he hit a pair of long field goals to make it a one-possession game in the fourth quarter.

"Sean's one of the most accurate kids I've ever worked with," Zima said. "That's what I stress, more than distance. College coaches want to see accuracy. You can hit one from 50, but that's one out of five. What's your accuracy at 45? At 35? When you go out on the field, they've gotta know you can score."

Cupitt was a wide receiver and defensive back in Exeter's youth system and started kicking around fifth grade. He began working with Zima as a freshman and made the transition to full-time kicker following that season. As a sophomore, he was good on 37-of-39 PATs and handled the punting.

Bauer made it an open competition for both jobs last year, and each excelled.

Henry progressed quickly and won the field goal kicking job heading into the season. Cupitt handled punts and kickoffs throughout. Cupitt has gotten much stronger this season. His punting average has improved by over 7 yards since last season and he has 11 touchbacks; last year had just one.

"Josh has great flexibility," Zima said. "He didn't start out being a great punter. He started out as a kicker, but he's trained very hard in the weight room and now he launches 'em into the end zone."

Though the two technically continue to compete each week, they settled into their specific roles last year and both seem comfortable with it.

"He's the better punter, I'm the more consistent (kicker)," Henry said. "Coach Bauer doesn't want to mess up a rhythm."

"Sean's been doing great this year (as a kicker), so we're rocking with him," Cupitt said. "It's perfect; it works out for both of us."

They might have started out fighting for the same jobs but now they're best friends and serve as a support system for one another. They play golf, video games and hang out together in the offseason. At practice, Henry simulates snaps when Cupitt practices punts and Cupitt holds for Henry during placements.

It helps that each learned the same techniques and concepts under the same teacher.

"We're able to critique each other, so (during practice and games) we're really our own coaches," Henry said. "That's a really cool thing to have. We're able to push each other in the right direction."

comments powered by Disqus