On Oct. 25, 1998, Denver Broncos kicker Jason Elam booted a 63-yard field goal in a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars to tie a 28-year old record held by Tom Dempsey of the New Orleans Saints. That record has since been tied on two other occasions, by Oakland Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski and San Francisco 49ers kicker David Akers, but has never been surpassed. While quite impressive, those distances are not quite as good at Argyle kicker Cole Hedlund’s personal best of 65 yards, which he achieved one day when he and his brother were taking some practice kicks.
Hedlund is the Eagles third leading scorer this season behind the team’s starting running back and top receiver, but even more impressive is the fact that he holds the national record for career field goals with 51, which he accomplished in the team’s bi-district game against Krum. As of the Nov. 29 playoff game versus Gilmer, his career total was 54.
Hedlund, who is attending the University of Arkansas on a full football scholarship next season, has hit a 57-yard field goal in a game, and coach Todd Rodgers said he has never had a weapon at the kicker position that Hedlund has proved himself to be.
“He has had a great year,” Rodgers said. “He had a great 2011 season. He didn’t get that many opportunities in 2012, so for him to blow up on the scene in 2013 like this is pretty impressive.”
Rodgers said it is a luxury to have a kicker like Hedlund because of that added dimension he provides to the Argyle football team that not all programs possess.
“It just gives us another weapon for our football team in the red zone,” Rodgers said. “He’s such a huge asset in our kicking game in terms of kick offs, because he kicks the ball out of the end zone and allow us to play good solid defense. He’s awesome to have. He’s going to be sorely missed around here because of his contributions.”
In the 2011 season, Hedlund kicked 25 field goals for the season, which is the single season record.
This season, he kicked his 51st career field goal on Nov. 14 to move past Jimmy Stevens of Heritage Hall High School in Oklahoma City, who held the previous record of 50.
Hedlund said that was a very special moment for him.
“It means a lot to me,” Hedlund said. “This being my senior year, heading in, I was kind of questioning how the season was going to turn out, but it was great because I have been working with my private coach since the start of my freshman year, which was my first year on varsity.
“It was important to me to have a good season because my brother [Chad Hedlund] was the kicker before me, and he was really great, so I had a lot to live up to.”
Hedlund said he had always had an inkling he would play kicker from the time he was a young boy, but said a couple of other factors made his exact path a little unclear.
“Growing up, I played soccer,” Hedlund said. “That was actually what I wanted to do was go to college and play soccer. Going into middle school, I played football, and I was a wide receiver, but also a kicker, too. It really wasn’t important to me until my freshman year, when I started taking private lessons and I realized that I really wanted to kick.”
Rodgers said that he feels comfortable putting Hedlund in from 40 or 50 yards because of his abilities in the kicking game, which Hedlund said makes him feel very proud.
“I think it’s great,” Hedlund said. “I’m glad that coach Rodgers has enough trust in me. Just knowing that he believes I can go out there and make it every time gives me confidence, too, because I know he’ll give me every opportunity he can.”
Rodgers said that as his team progresses through the playoffs, he will rely on Hedlund as much as ever to be the type of special teams player he has been throughout his career at Argyle.
“If the game is on the line, he is an ultra competitive kid that we can send out there to go win the game or tie the game for us,” Rodgers said. “He’s one of those guys that has paid the price and put the time in, and I trust him to go out there and come through for us.”