Carter Ward wasn’t thrilled with the way he performed in last year’s Kicking World National Showcase, but this weekend, he’s getting a second chance.
The Columbus North senior kicker and punter will compete in this year’s showcase Saturday and Sunday at Hyde Park High School in Austin, Texas.
“Field goals, the first day, I struggled a little bit, but the second day, I got all the way back to 55 (yards), but I missed the 55,” Ward said. “I feel like I’ve gotten a lot stronger and improved my technique and form. I’m hoping to perform well just to get some more notice from some more colleges and bigger colleges.”
As he did last year, Ward earned an invitation to the showcase through a July camp at Roncalli High School. At this year’s camp, he finished second in punting and first in charting for kickoffs for longest distance and hang time
For field goals, the roughly 30 kickers started out kicking from 30 yards in a single-elimination format, with the ones who made the field goals from that distance moving back five yards at a time. Ward eventually converted a 55-yarder to finish second.
The top two overall kicker/punters were selected for the national showcase, and Ward was the only one from Indiana.
“I felt like I did really well,” Ward said. “I basically had to try out again. Obviously, it’s a lot different. At that time, I didn’t get to kick on turf fields a lot since the school was shut down (because of COVID-19). But I felt confident going into the season after that camp.”
Ward ended up having a stellar high school season. He converted 38 of 39 extra points and 9 of 12 field goals with a long of 40.
His nine field goals are one short of the single-season school record.
“I felt like I improved a lot from my junior year to senior year,” Ward said. “The only thing I was disappointed about was, I was one field goal away from the school record for a season. But there’s nothing I could have done about that because our offense was moving the ball really well.”
The 5-foot-7, 160-pound Ward also averaged 36.2 yards on 19 punts, putting three inside the opponents’ 20-yard line. He had 17 touchbacks on 56 kickoffs and earned All-Conference Indiana honors.
“He had a great season for us,” North coach Tim Bless said. “As a defensive coordinator, he’s a defensive coordinator’s dream with having so many touchbacks and making the other team drive the length of the field. Then obviously, with a big punt average, we were able to flip the field quite a bit. Being strong in the kicking game is a really big hidden point in football, and it went a long way in the success we were able to achieve this year.”
In practice, Ward has connected on a 57-yard field goal.
“He was very consistent,” Bless said. “We had complete confidence anytime we were in the scoring zone. I was hopeful we were going to get him the school record. We’ve seen him hit 50-yarders on the practice field. It’s just, we never had that opportunity arise in a game situation.”
Last month, Ward competed in a National Kicking Rankings camp in Chicago. He finished fourth out of about 20 kickers/punters from Indiana, Illinois and Michigan.
“The competition was very high,” Ward said. “The second-ranked punter in the nation was there. I didn’t do as good as I expected, but I did OK.”
Ward has a scholarship offer from Division-II Findlay (Ohio) and is receiving interest from some other smaller schools. He wants to major in pre-law and go to law school.
This weekend, Ward will be one of about 90 kickers/punters will will compete in the Kicking World National Showcase. Highlights from the event will be livestreamed via YouTube from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.