Perfect fit: South Range’s Novak picks up kicking this year, becomes natural for the Raiders

Sports

Senior Harley Novak is a soccer standout, but decided to try out as kicker for the football team and has since become a team favorite

CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – It’s a bye week for the South Range football team as they head to the postseason. The Raiders are coming off a 6-0 regular season and Northeast 8 Conference Title.

They’re led by a strong senior class, which includes kicker Harley Novak. She’s only been on the team for a couple of months but is already making a big impact.

“I try not to think of it a lot,” Novak said of her kicking. “I try to just think it’s just another day at practice.”

Kicking is nothing new for Novak. But believe it or not, she’s only been playing football for about three months. Soccer is her main sport. Harley’s a four-year starter and senior captain for the Raiders’ girls soccer team.

“I thought it was going to be exactly like kicking a soccer ball,” Novak said. “When I went out, it wasn’t really but it kind of came naturally I guess.”

Novak had never kicked a football before this year, with an exception of their school’s “powder puff” game. But when the Raiders were in need of a kicker this season, she emailed Coach Yeagley. Then she went in for a tryout, and the rest is history.

“We had some people come and work with her, not more or less on her football skills because her kicking is very, very good,” Yeagley said. “But more on the mental aspect of the game and everything else. She’s just fit right in, she’s a very likable young lady and the kids all know her and the kids love her to death.”

“They really have a tight connection normally and they opened that up for me and they’re all super nice,” Novak said.

Novak’s kicking speaks for itself. She’s 3-for-3 on field goals this season, including a 33-yarder last Friday against Hubbard, which hit the crossbar and went in. Novak has also gone 32-35 on extra points. Her field goal in Week 1 against Poland proved to be the difference in a big win over the Bulldogs.

“She’s just another one of the football players and we have full confidence in her making every kick,” said Jake Gehring, South Range senior tight end and long-snapper. “When we’re in the game there is no difference. I snap, Michael [Patrone] holds and she kicks. We just go with the flow and she does her job great.”

“Yeah, I just tell her relax and put it in,” said Patrone, senior quarterback. “I say ‘boot it’ a lot. Put it in there and then after she makes it, pat on the head and then we go on.”

The Raiders are ranked second in Region 17 this postseason, with a great chance to make a deep run in the Division V playoffs.

“I just like to see the boys happy because I’ve come in here and played for three months and they’ve played for their entire life like I have soccer,” Novak said. “So I just try to do my best to keep them going and make sure they’re confident with me kicking the ball.”

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