/Before kicking Patriots to Super Bowl, Gostkowski scored at Madison Central

Before kicking Patriots to Super Bowl, Gostkowski scored at Madison Central

But there was one problem. Justice, now retired, recalled Wednesday morning that “We didn’t have anyone to kick off.” We didn’t have any placekickers. We were trying to figure it out — pooch-kick, squib kick it or whatever. This problem is common at 2A and 1A high schools. Kickers are often absent so it’s not uncommon for them to score two points after each touchdown. Madison Central, a Class 6A powerhouse, found this unusual. Justice stated that Todd Walker, our ninth-grade coach, was at the end of one practice when we were working on kicking. “Coach, I have a kid who can kick it better than this,” Todd told me. Justice asked Walker to bring the 14 year-old to the next day of varsity practice. Walker did. This was the day Mike Justice met Stephen Gostkowski. He hits that thing with his first kick — SMACK! Justice chuckled. I thought to myself, “Geez, oh god, we got us an kicker.” And boy did we. We were set for four more years.” Gostkowski is now 34-years-old and a 12-year NFL veteran. He will kick for New England Patriots Sunday in Super Bowl. He has been one of the most respected, competent placekickers ever. Gostkowski, who is still as good as ever and remains the third-most accurate kicker in all of history, was at his best during the past season. Gostkowski made 37 of his 40 field goal attempts, including a 62 yarder and five that were more than 50 yards. Justice stated, “He’s an automatic, that’s all it is. Automatic.” Justice is asked to tell us something about Beaver Gostkowski most people don’t know. Justice replied, “Well, if I had to tell you one thing about the greatest kicker in football, it would be that he’s such an outstanding, multi-talented athletic athlete.” Justice replied, “Yes, he can kick. But he can also do many other things.” He was all-state for us in soccer, baseball, and football. We didn’t want him to take on other football positions. He was too valuable as an a kicker.” How did he choose to go to Memphis over State, Ole Miss, or another SEC school? Justice stated that Ole Miss and State both had scholarship-funded kickers, and no one was taking more than one. “Tommy West, then the coach at Memphis, worked a deal in which Beaver was granted a baseball scholarship to Memphis. He also served as a walk-on in football. He was an amazing pitcher and beat Ole Miss, State. He was a great pitcher. Greg Perry, who coached Gostkowski in his senior season at Madison Central, said that Stephen did not pitch. He was a hard thrower, and he was a great pitcher. Perry stated that Stephen was matched against Matt Cain, a Tennessee team, one time during spring break. Cain went on to be a Major League all star with the Giants. After the game, a professional scout came up to Perry and said that it was the hardest throw he’d ever seen in a high-school game. Cain was going 96 mph, while Stephen was going 94 mph on the radar gun.” Who won? Perry replied, “Stephen won and I believe it was one-to-none.” Gostkowski was the greatest Memphis kicker, so skilled that he even managed to recover his own onsides kick. He was drafted by the Patriots in the fourth round. 1,613 points later, it was history. Perry said, “I think he would have chosen baseball if he had.” While a Major League pitcher earns more than an NFL kicker for the same money, everything is relative. Gostkowski, who is paid more than $4million per year, is the most highly-paid kicker in professional football history. Justice stated, “I watch him every opportunity I get.” I still get nervous when he makes a big kick. Justice does not take credit for Gostkowski’s kick-kicking skills. Justice stated, “The only thing that I did was to not mess him up.” Justice had any advice for Gostkowski on kicking? “I told him that you can see the big sticks down there. Justice laughed and said, “Kick it through those sticks.” Madison Central hosted a reunion of the 2002 State Champion football team three years ago on Friday night football. Gostkowski was unable to make the trip due to his job but he sent a video which played on the Jumbotron. Beaver Gostkowski stated that it began with a serious message about Madison Central’s wonderful memories and ended with the following: “These people up there think Bill Belichick a tough football coach.” “But they have never met Mike Justice.”