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A bond built on trust

A bond built on trust

The connection was solidified between kicker and holder years ago during a cold, wet and rainy WIAA playoff game with five seconds to go, as a game-winning field goal from 37 yards was made. Cold hands and rock-hard footballs didn't make the kick any easier for the two seniors, but with perfection, they executed the art of the field goal and sent their team to the next round of the WIAA playoffs.

Fast forward four years and senior kicker Jacob Mason and holder Jon Rauh are still getting the job done, but this time for the Concordia Wisconsin football program. The two have been working together since seventh grade and have continued to put points on the board for their teams. The countless reputations over the nine-year span has built comfort, trust and a sense of ease to the kicking game on campus.

"He's just told me certain cues to look for over the years, like where he wants the ball down so that he can make the best kick possible." Rauh explained of the detail it takes to hold for Mason. What is important to note is that Rauh's only job during his freshman season at Concordia Wisconsin was to hold for Mason, which wasn't a foregone conclusion entering the 2015 season. There was a holder above him on the depth chart, but after an injury, the duo returned to their normal routine as they had done in years prior.

Most would think 1.25 seconds is an extremely short amount of time, but it's what required of Mason, Rauh and the long-snapper by special teams coach Jeff Walker. They must meet the 1.25 second requirement for the process to be smooth and avoid any chance of it getting blocked by the defense. The fluidness of the process during a field goal or extra point has a lot to do with teamwork.

"Good chemistry between the kicker and holder makes me a lot more comfortable and being comfortable while kicking is everything," Mason stated. "Having that chemistry and knowing that he (Rauh) is going to get the ball down just makes me not have to think about it."

Ever since that playoff game, the duos relationship - which been automatic - allows them to make every kick easier and easier for the two. They have made nine field goals and 79 extra points over the first three years of their careers as a Falcon.

"Having the same tempo and getting off the kick in 1.25 seconds is what we look for every time." Mason said of the process of the kick.

Some say the mental aspect of being a kicker is just as important as the fundamental aspect. "A lot of kicking is mental, but being on the same page makes everything a little easier." the senior kicker explained. "If you get in a rut and hit a couple of bad balls, it eats in your head and it's tough to get out of."

Even when the Falcons kicker does get in a rut, the two longtime friends know they have to battle through it and make the next kick. "I just have to refocus myself and know that the ball is going to be a perfect hit every time." Mason said. "Jon is always right there after I miss one, picking me back up and reassuring me that I can do this."   

The kicker and holder are not the only part of the puzzle, as the long-snapper has to be on point with the snap to the holder in order to keep the process on pace for a ball flying between the uprights. Rauh noted that the long-snapper has to be able to get the "laces and a tight spiral on the ball in order to make a clean ball placement."

Mason also talked about how important the long snapper, saying "I can't even swing my leg if the ball doesn't even get to the right spot so that Jon can get the ball down." The job for the long-snapper isn't over after the snap, as he has to then block the oncoming rush.

After the snap, holding becomes the next step which is not such an easy process, as some people may think. In tough conditions, it becomes hard to stay warm and keep their hands in a condition where they can catch the snap easy and fast enough to get the ball down in rhythm with the kickers motion to meet that time expectation.

At CUW, it isn't uncommon to see Mason asking head coach Greg Etter or Walker to put in the specials to kick a field goal, knowing that the potential of putting three points on the scoreboard is a high probability.

So next time you are at a Falcon football game, look to the sideline to see where the left-footed kicker and holder are waiting in anticipation to run on to the field, because they will be ready to show their teammates and fans in attendance just how smooth the process is of kicking and how important their relationship is to the game.      

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