Gearing up to play in the first football game of his life, Hays High senior Matt Goodale was an emotional wreck.
In the fourth week of the season, Goodale, a starter on the HHS soccer team, was recruited by Hays High coach Tony Crough to join the team as a place-kicker after the Indians struggled in that area early in the season.
But Goodale was starting to have some serious reservations about his decision to try football as he was preparing for his debut against Garden City.
"Right before the game I was a bundle of nerves," Goodale said. "I had no clue what I was doing. I was texting everyone in my family, 'What am I doing here? I'm in pads. I never should've done this."
Considering he had never kicked a football in pads before, Goodale made a respectable four of six PAT attempts in his first game.
He has been virtually flawless since that point, making all his kicks for the Indians after the Garden City game.
"It was mostly nerves," he said. "I just needed for them to wear off. After that, nerves settled down and everything started clicking."
Crough said he inquired to Indians' soccer coach Silas Hibbs about having one of the soccer players try kicking for the football team. Hibbs' first recommendation was Goodale.
"He's been incredible," Crough said. "You know, when you've got a strong defense and you do a good enough job of running the football and wasting the clock, the next thing that you need is a kicker.
"On his kickoffs, because of how high and how deep they are, he constantly pins teams deep. He's been phenomenal all year. It's something you don't realize how valuable it is until you've got a good one, and Matt's been great."
Goodale's season was highlighted by a 42-yard field goal he made last week in Hays High's 31-6 playoff win at Goddard-Eisenhower.
"We were rushing and I hit it, and I felt it was a little bit of a scuff," Goodale said. "I was like, 'Agh, that might not go in.' I was waiting for the refs just to make sure it went in. I turned to the sideline and everyone just erupted. I didn't realize how big of a kick it was until I started thinking about it and talking about it with other people. It was exciting."
He said his success this year makes him wish he would have went out for football earlier in his career.
"I wish I would've been doing this freshman, sophomore year-ish," Goodale said. "I was probably too small to do it my freshman year. But I wish I would've started off my sophomore year and just started hitting the weight room to get longer distances on field goals and PATs."
But Goodale said he's just grateful he got the opportunity to take part in a historic playoff win for the Indians.
"It's amazing. I never even thought I'd be on a football team," Goodale said. "But to be on a football team that's done something that most Hays High teams haven't, it's phenomenal. It's an amazing feeling."
Hays High (4-5) will play Maize South (9-0) in the second round of the playoffs on Friday at Maverick Stadium.