The kicker

People don’t get excited about extra points in football.

It’s just not done.

OK, maybe if the extra point will win the game, but still … c’mon. Ask any true football fan and they can maybe tell you about a missed extra point that lost a game, or prevented a tie, or messed up the spread. I’ve never gambled on a football game so I’m not sure what “the spread” is, but I’m guessing it doesn’t involve cream cheese and chives.

Not Chives, the butler, though if he is bringing “the spread,” then maybe it does involve him. But only if he is also bringing the chips or crackers and something to drink. Eating chips or crackers with the spread is thirsty work, so he has to bring the drinks, too.

You may be asking at this point, “Why is he rambling?”

I ask myself that, too.

Friday night the extra points in the football game between Anderson County High School and East Ridge High School were the running topic of conversation after Anderson County’s Daniel Bethel made his first one.

No, nobody jumped up and down and celebrated that extra point — that single, one point. Not that those single points on the scoreboard are unimportant.

They are very important. They make each touchdown worth a possible seven points and not just six points, which is all you get when you carry the football across the goal line. If you make the extra point, then the whole scenario is worth seven points. We good on that?

Unless the team decides to go for two points — as in a two-point conversion, and then a touchdown could be worth as much as eight points.

But that’s a whole other avenue of conversation and maybe a column for another time because this is about Anderson County High School’s touchdowns and Daniel Bethel’s extra points.

Daniel Bethel has, in football terminology, a big leg. He’s not deformed or anything. Having a “big leg” just means when he connects his foot (which is attached to his leg — his “big leg”) with a football, the football travels very far and very fast. It’s all very scientific and if I had more room and a bigger vocabulary I could explain it in scientific terms. But I don’t, so I won’t.

What caused all the ruckus, all the stream of conversation, was the jungle at one end of the football field.

See, Daniel Bethel and his “big leg” kicked the football three times for the extra point and all three footballs are now lost in the jungle at the end of the East Ridge High School football field.

Bethel’s kicks traveled very far and very fast and they cut through this swath of jungle like an angry lumberjack stuck in a forest in the Great Northwest.

While no trees were knocked down, several branches did depart their home bases of tree trunks to fall crashing to the ground as the sonic ripple from Bethel’s kicks tore through the foliage.

And the young and brave crew of ball boys for Anderson County High School did attempt to retrieve these kicked footballs.

But the head of this adventurous crew said it best: “There’s all of those trees, and then there’s a fence,” young Ty Murphy, the standard of high school football ball boys, said. “We can’t get to them. They’re gone.”

And so it was. There was talk, a smattering of ideas to somehow offset the big leg of one Daniel Bethel. There was talk of maybe getting a 15-yard penalty on point-after attempts in an effort to keep the footballs in the same zip code as the field of play. There were suggestions of going for the aforementioned two-point conversions.

And as the evening grew long, the talk of what lay beyond the wall of dark and mysterious trees grew more and more dangerous, more life-threatening and even soul-consuming.

First, there was a fence. Then there was a fence with barbed wire. Followed by an electrified fence with barbed wire. And yes, even an electrified fence with barbed wire guarded by a big dog with very sharp teeth.

Only the brave and stalwart ball boys of Anderson County High School know what is beyond that shield of green.

“You know, when I was here all that was kept cleared off,” one of the guys toting the yard markers said to me after the first ball vanished into the jungle. “Nobody lost any footballs back then.”

Daniel Bethel wasn’t kicking back then, either.