Montoursville, Pa. – Dillon Young watched as the kickoff, moments after the Warriors took their initial game lead, sailed to the boundary and rolled out of bounds.
It was a theme that would continue all night as the Montoursville kicker attempted to perfect a kick-off that would settle in-bounds and pin teams deep. It was a position Young knew he would be in at the conclusion of last year’s season. He was going to be the kicker, but an offseason filled with uncertainty made preparation difficult.
It might have been the only part of the opening night Young had to work on as he put together a memorable performance to help Montoursville defeat Midd-West 56-7.
That changed Friday when Montoursville welcomed in Danville for a battle of the unbeaten. The pressure was squarely on Young to perform. A win would give Montoursville a league championship.
Young's kickoff was a weapon as he pushed directional shots to unsuspecting players who either fell on the ball or attempted to make a run of it. Regardless of their decision, Young's ability to kick was a force all night as Montoursville defeated Danville 42-28.
"In the beginning I was struggling and getting down on myself, but the coaches did a really good job of encouraging me and telling me to believe in myself,” Young said. “I did and I ended up having some pretty good kicks.”
In his first game of the season, Young pulled in two passes for 37 yards, snagged an interception on the Mustangs third possession of the game, and booted all eight-extra point after attempts through. Friday against Danville he continued that theme, missing only one extra point. He also returned an interception for a touchdown.
“I’ve been working on it a little bit before practice each day,” Young said. “I got to get a little better with the placement and not kicking it out of bounds so much.”
Montoursville typically has turned to soccer players in the past to help with kicking duties. Since this year has been a little different with COVID, the idea of moving players from soccer to football and then back again seemed a little much.
Montoursville’s coach turned to Young, who kicked in youth football.
“He’s one of the best athletes in the school,” Montoursville coach JC Keefer said. “That’s just a matter of some God given talent. We don’t work really hard at that, it’s on him. I’ve had soccer players the last couple years and they come, and they kick. Dillon does offense and defense. Then he kicks.”
It’s a full workload for Young, but one Keefer knows he can handle. He has excelled in multiple sports at Montoursville. Adding one more duty to an already full slate of athletic endeavors was just part of the deal for Young.
He quickly took to kicking and has become a potent weapon for the Warriors, pinning teams deep or forcing unprepared players to pick up the ball and run.
“It’s just a blessing to have an athlete like that where we can put him back there and be pretty consistent,” Keefer said. “We were ready to kick a field goal on any one of these drives to go up two scores. Fortunately, we punched in it, but having that in the back of your mind with Dillion Young is really important.”
In the opening game of the season, Young struggled to place his kicks exactly where he wanted. During the Warriors’ Week 5 showdown against Danville, Young place every kick exactly where he wanted it.
Danville was forced to recover the ball in front of kick coverage in the early portions of the game. The Ironmen adjusted, but so did Young, who pushed the ball further downfield.