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Like umpires and referees, Spencer Gooch knows his job will likely go unnoticed unless he screws up.
Gooch, a senior who handles long-snapping duties for the North Oldham Mustangs’ football team, takes pride in his job and knowing he does it well whenever NOHS makes a field goal or PAT or gets off a punt.
“It’s nice to know I was a part of it when it works,” Gooch said. “I am usually involved in the game on offense and defense trying to do my part. I think just by being an offensive lineman, I am pretty used to that part of it.”
The 6-foot, 215-pound Gooch is an all-district middle linebacker and offensive tackle for the Mustangs who are 3-0 this year and face their biggest game of the year at 7:30 p.m. Friday at district rival Henry County.
In addition to those duties, Gooch has become nearly automatic in his long snap – keeping the NOHS special teams strong.
“That’s a weapon, an overlooked weapon,” NOHS coach Billy Martin said. “We have a pretty good kicking game especially with Paul (Althoff) on field goals and extra points and we pretty much know the ball is going to be right in the holder’s hands every time. I really can’t think of a bad snap over the past three years.”
Gooch has been long snapping since middle school and followed in his brother Tyler’s steps at NOHS.
“I started shotgun snapping when my dad taught me in the youth league,” Gooch said. “When I got into middle school they asked who could do it and I have been doing it ever since.”
Recently, Gooch has made a name for himself as a snapper at three Ray Guy Camps he has attended in Bowling Green and Dayton, Ohio. Guy, an NFL Hall of Fame punter who played for the Oakland Raiders, runs the camps nationwide not only for the kickers, but for the snappers as well.
“You learn how to get in a proper stance, how to hold the ball and do a lot of drills,” Gooch said. “They have some accuracy tests like hitting a small bell seven-yards away and there are different targets. You also snap a lot to the guys when they are working on their kicking.”
Gooch has been ranked as high as the second best snapper in the camps based on competitions. He has not filled out his NCAA Clearinghouse paperwork as of yet, but Martin said once he does he is sure plenty of colleges will come calling seeking Gooch’s snapping skills.
Gooch said a calm, clear head is one of the big keys after all the physical work has been put in.
“The most important thing is not to get too overexcited,” Gooch said. “My brother and I have both been pretty good at staying calm. No matter if it’s an extra point or a game-winning field goal, if you get nervous, things will go wrong.”
While long snappers no longer have to endure the old school ways of teams blasting them with two players sometimes as soon as the ball is snapped. Gooch knows he is going to take a shot when he snaps.
“They can’t hit you until your head comes up and most the good teams have a guy there waiting for you,” Gooch said. “If they don’t, you have a pretty clear shot to get down the field and make the tackle.”
Gooch will continue his duties more than happy to work in relative obscurity hoping to help the Mustangs to a first ever regional crown and beyond this season.
“I have always seemed to have a talent for doing it,” Gooch said. “You always hear guys talking about quarterbacks and if they complete 60 percent of their passes how great that is. If a long snapper messes up just one time it’s a really big deal. It’s starting to get some notice. At a lot of college games now they announce the kicker, the holder and the snapper. I think it’s starting to get some of the credit it deserves.”
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