Soccer star tries to kick in some help
Shaffer is a football newcomer whose abilities are raw, but the senior provides Crystal River a powerful leg.
By BRIAN SUMERS
Published October 21, 2005
[Times photo: Ron Thompson]
Coty Shaffer has connected on a 47-yard field goal during a game and claims he's made a 69-yarder in practice.
Most days, Coty Shaffer attends practice without a shirt, perhaps to show his sculpted physique to the girls cross-county team that follows his every move.
Shaffer promises he is oblivious to his hero status, saying he avoids the shirt - and shoulder pads - because he's not really a football player.
Yes, he suits up for Crystal River on Friday nights. But Shaffer is a kicker, and he takes the field for just a few plays.
Sometimes, Shaffer will make a tackle, but he knows he has poor technique. This, his senior season, is his first time playing football.
Though he has made field goals from 47 and 41 yards, Shaffer's first love is soccer. He is a goalie on an elite Pasco club team and may receive a college scholarship next season.
Florida Atlantic, South Florida and Central Florida are recruiting him.
"Soccer is more exciting," said Shaffer, 17. "I've been playing all my life. I love the game."
Yet football is fun too, a chance for Shaffer to show off his booming leg. He claims he has connected on a 69-yard field goal in practice and that his punts regularly travel more than 40 yards.
Shaffer hasn't received much formal football training, so he sometimes lacks accuracy. He did, however, boot a kickoff through the field-goal uprights against Trinity Catholic.
"He's a special tool in our arsenal," coach Craig Frederick said through a grin. "He doesn't do anything else."
Shaffer does not tackle - at least not well. He occasionally will make an attempt during kick and punt returns but told coaches he didn't want to try to play another position.
Shaffer doesn't want to risk injury. And when he does try, his technique is, well, lacking.
"If you ever see him try to make one, you'll see why he doesn't play anything else," Frederick said.
Shaffer can handle the good-natured criticism, especially since he is such a fundamentally sound soccer player. When he leaves football practice each day (he goes for only the first half hour), Shaffer drives to New Port Richey to work out with his club soccer team.
He has been playing soccer since age 3 and goalie since he was 8. And he loves his position.
"It's the most exciting thing," Shaffer said.
"The whole game is in front of you, and you anticipate. The game is based around you. If you screw up, it's all you," he said.
Until this season, he played for the West Citrus Storm, helping lead his under-18 squad to a state championship last year. Most of his teammates graduated high school and moved on, so Shaffer found another squad.
In one playoff game, he stopped three consecutive shots.
"It was just an unbelievable play," said Bob Hoki, his former club coach. "It's the kind of thing you wish you had on film."
While his first love is soccer, he prefers one thing about football: he gets to score. In soccer, he occasionally will notch an assist after booting a long punt following a save, but he can't score goals.
"It's exciting to put points on the board," Shaffer said before offering a slight criticism of the 1-6 Pirates. "Our team doesn't do that often."
Brian Sumers can be reached at email@example.com or 564-3628.
[Last modified October 21, 2005, 02:15:38]
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