While the No. 3 Xaverian Hawks (3-0) were building their lead for a 31-0 win over Brockton (1-2) Saturday, Jules Murphy was busy on the sidelines.
The senior kicker was constantly punting and kicking the ball into the net to keep loose, waiting for his number to be called.
Xaverian averages 29 points per game – while giving up only six per game – and Murphy’s field goal Friday was his first of the year. But there’s no doubt the Hawks posses the best kicker in the state.
When Murphy came on the field he was a terror for Brockton, constantly pinning the Boxers behind their own 20-yard line with every punt. On kickoffs, he was sending the ball past the 5-yard line or into the end zone every time.
After Xaverian failed to score on its first drive of the game, Murphy blasted a punt that rolled 57 yards to Brockton’s 4-yard line.
Brockton’s offense was stagnant and they were forced to punt from the back of their endzone, which led to Xaverian’s first touchdown as they only had to go 31 yards to score.
“The drop is everything – setting a low drop and keep it straight,” Murphy said. “If I get it straight I’m fine. You always look for open field where the guy is not and get it around them.”
Before his time at Xaverian, Murphy played soccer while growing up but said he always had a passion for football.
“I couldn’t play anywhere else [on the football field],” Murphy said. “I was a soccer goalie so I always took those long goal kicks. Ever since I stopped soccer, this is all I’ve been doing. I come out at practice every day just kicking.”
Murphy punted the ball two more times in the game for a total of 88 yards, and he added a 38-yard field goal at the end of the first-half that looked like it could have traveled another 20 yards.
“Jules kicked the ball excellently and punted the ball excellently,’’ Xaverian head coach Charlie Stevenson said. “He’s a three-year starter and he has a very strong leg.”
Late in the fourth quarter, Murphy kicked a 26-yard field goal, but Brockton’s Moise Edouard barreled into the kicker, resulting in a first down and a touchdown run by junior Hunter Toute.
“I just kicked it and I didn’t really expect [the hit], Murphy said. “But I just got up and wanted to make the next kick.”
There have been some great kickers from Xaverian, most notably Jon Barker who went to Syracuse and Paul Asack who played at Duke.
Murphy, who said he has received some Division 1 offers, is right up there with the best according to kicking coach John Fiatarone.
“I’ve been working with Jules since his freshman year and he’s done nothing but improve,” Fiatarone said, who’s in his 11th year at Xaverian. “He takes it real serious and he works real hard. Talent alone isn’t enough to be a kicker, but you got to have a strong work ethic. I don’t like to rank kickers because every situation is different, but we’ve had two great kickers here and Jules is right up there with them.”
But more important than Murphy’s knack for kicking and his work ethic is his admiration for the team, Fiatarone said.
“People say he’s only a kicker and he just kicks the ball, but he appreciates the linemen, the long snapper and the holder,” Fiatarone said. “It’s so important because Jules has a lot of confidence in them.”
Senior Matt Stapleton is the long snapper for Xaverian, and junior backup quarterback Austin DeCarr does the holding.
“He’s a great kid, he’s always at practice and we always go out 30 minutes early and snapped and kicked,” Stapleton said, who is snapping for Murphy for the second straight season. “We practiced a lot over the summer and we’ve always been together. If Jules doesn’t trust me then nothing will happen. It’s all based on how the snap goes, but Jules can always put it up there. Just watching him kick, I have so much confidence in him.”
At the high school level, it’s not common to have a steady placekicker. But having Murphy on the team makes all the difference, according to senior quarterback Chris Calvanese.
“There’s no worries when we need to rely on Jules,” Calvanese said. “He’s a great kicker.”
Anthony Gulizia can be reached at AGulizia@globe.com. You can follow him on Twitter @gulizia8.
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