Two weeks ago Corben Mahaffy finally got to show his ability to kick a football.
And did he ever, nailing three field goals, including a huge 55-yarder as the Raiders nearly knocked off No. 1 Sioux Falls Washington before losing 29-28.
His 55-yard field goal is tied for third all-time with Ryan Jastram of Sioux Falls Roosevelt in 2005. The only longer kicks were a 56-yarder by Trevor Cook of Sioux Falls Washington in 2005 and a 58-yarder by Kevin Hanson of Washington in 1998.
Ice has been Mahaffy’s best friend this fall, as the junior also does some additional kicking — for the Raider soccer team. Unfortunately for the Raiders and Mahaffy, that busy schedule was lessened this past week as Stevens dropped a tough 1-0 overtime decision to top-ranked Aberdeen Central in the state semifinals.
Now, Mahaffy is down to one sport.
“Playing two sports in one season is pretty hard. There’s a lot of physical toll on the body,” he said. “Most of my time is spent on sports and homework. I went from soccer to kicking the football. It’s rough.”
But it is what you do when you love to play two sports that also coincide.
A soccer player since he was young, Mahaffy picked up football in the eighth grade on the advice — or urging of his father.
“My dad told me to go out and kick a football just to see if I could be good at it. I’m fairly good at it,” he said.
Despite the disappointment of the soccer season ending a game short of his goal, there’s still some kicking to do.
His three field goals are the only field goals he has kicked this season, although he has about a dozen extra points.
Against Washington, he also hit a 27-yarder and a 42-yarder.
It was the 55-yarder that got the attention of the state media, including an interview on South Dakota Public Television.
“That was a rush; that was awesome,” he said of the 55-yarder. “The snap and hold were great. Colton Hartford did an amazing job holding that ball and the snap was really perfect. I took my steps and hit the ball. The ball was going through and I absolutely went crazy."
He had not tried that distance previously in a game, but did in practice.
“I hit one out of the zillion that I have tried,” he said.
As a two-sport-at-a-time performer, he still had a ways to go to catch former St. Thomas More standout Luke Julian, who not only played soccer and kicked the football for the Cavaliers a couple of years ago, he also ran cross country — all in the fall season.
Mahaffy said he is not a long distance runner, so two sports at once will have to do. While busy, he felt it went pretty good.
“My soccer coach (David Sharp) was very understanding. The football coaches were nice too. They allowed me to do both,” he said. “It is very hard trying to balance other schedules at the same time. A couple of times I went to Sioux Falls and back, and I had to be at school at 6 o’ clock in the morning. There’s minimal sleep, that’s for sure.”
He only had one game conflict, that coming early in the season with the Rushmore Bowl, where the Raiders beat Spearfish, and a soccer match against Pierre, another Stevens win. He didn’t play in the soccer game.
“The main reason is I had more people on the soccer team who play my position,” he said. “The football team doesn't really have another kicker for varsity. Other players could fill my position, but they don’t have as much distance as I can get on the ball."
On the pitch, Mahaffy played right wing, left wing and striker. It was his first year of the varsity as he did not play soccer last season. It’s his second year as a varsity football kicker; he booted one field goal last season in a part-time role.
Mahaffy is trying to take his kicking to another level and is coached by Bob Lucchesi in the Colorado Kicking Clinic. He also competed in the Kansas City Kicking Camp where he finished in the top 50 (out of 109 kickers).
“They taught me about a positive mindset, that I am going to make it every time,” he said.
In football, he said there can be a mental aspect about kicking.
“You have to control yourself to be able to put the ball where you want it,” he said.
While he winds down his junior season in football, Mahaffy will have a year or so to decide what and where his future lies in college —and what shape of ball he kicks.
“I know what that decision is, I’m just not ready to make that decision just yet,” he said with a smile.