The Murphy Bulldogs in the state semifinals with two special kickers

Sophomore Annie-Kate Dalton kicks field goals and extra points for the Murphy Bulldogs. PHOTO: WTVC SPORTS

The Murphy Bulldogs face Robbinsville at home Friday night in the state semifinals.

The two teams have met before this season, with Murphy coming out on top.

The Bulldogs have two specialists who are special.

The team spent Tuesday afternoon on the practice field getting ready for Robbinsville in the state semifinals.

Their two kickers, both females, spent the afternoon on the game field perfecting their craft. Sophomore Annie-Kate Dalton is focused, "I have one job to do and I have to execute."

Her fellow kicker, senior Kaitlynn Wheaton, explains her thought process for consistency. "When I'm in a game and I'm going to kick and extra point, I don't think about anything else, I block everything out and I just kick."

Both girls are in their first year kicking for the Bulldogs.

Wheaton, who also plays soccer, kicks extra points only.

She ended up on the team after having fun with friends. "We came down and we were playing tag football and I kicked it. Our PE coach, coach Johnson, took a video of me and showed it to coach Gentry and he asked me to kick."

Head coach David Gentry said each kicker has been valuable on the 2018 team, "So the girls come in in their own role and they're very good and they handle it well. Of course, the boys really accept 'em and they're really part of this football team," Gentry said.

Dalton has played softball all her life and has a little stronger leg.

She kicks extra points and field goals.

She hit a field goal from 33 yards in a game and believes she could hit one from 40.

She attempted one from 35 yards while our camera was recording. It split the uprights.

She can't wait until Friday night, when her number may be called with the game on the line. "I'm excited, I'm ready."

Gentry explained the girls chemistry within the team, "We're just all team members and they blend that way no matter where we go. We go out to eat, we go into a team meeting, they're just part of the football team."

Both kickers love it. "The energy, just being out there on the field and just being on a team that feels like family," Dalton said.

Last season, Katelyn Jones paved the way.

In Gentry's words, she broke the ice and grew to be his most popular player.

She was also a perfect 22 of 22 in extra points during the playoffs.

Come Friday night, Dalton or Wheaton could decide the game.

They're ready.

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