Easterling hits 56-yarder in all-star game

Grayson Easterling approaches his 56-yard field goal, kicks it cleanly and then celebrates with teammates, including holder Tanner Cotten #14.
By: 
STEVE ROGERS
Staff Writer

College football teams looking for a kicker with a strong leg might want to drop by Oak Hill Academy in West Point.

Oak Hill senior Graham Easterling hit a 56-year-field goal in Friday’s MAIS high school football all-star game. It was one of two he hit in the game. The first one, a 36-yarder,  came near the end of the first half to give his team some momentum when it was down 14-0 at the time.

Easterling’s team went on to win 20-14.

“I was nervous on that first one, too. I knew it meant something,” he said.

The 56-yarder came after the Blue team, on which Easterling played, scored a touchdown to open the second half to pull within 14-9. The next drive bogged down at the White team’s 40.

“He didn’t say anything, I didn’t say anything, He just sent me out there,” Easterling said of Blue team coach John Holcombe, who coaches Tunica Academy and saw Easterling kick when they played this year and during practice leading up the all-star game.

During those practices, Easterling had been hitting from beyond 50 yards.

“I had the wind with me, but I still was nervous. My adrenaline was pumping. I crushed it. It just all worked out,” Easterling said.

His parents, Thomas and Michelle Easterling, were on hand. Fans said they couldn’t completely describe his mother’s excitement.

“Off the charts maybe,” said one friend.

Even more impressive is it came with a holder who Easterling never had worked with. In fact, Tanner Cotten, of Silva-Bay Academy, had never held before.

“He did a great job,” Easterling noted.

The kicker, who hasn’t decided yet where he might go to college, missed a 51-yarder later against the wind and after the Blue team pulled ahead 20-14, had a chance to seal with the win with two minutes left. And while everyone else in the stadium at Jackson Prep thought his 20-yarder was good, the ref who mattered, who was out of position, called it no good.

“He got over it. Only thing it messed up was his stat line,” Thomas Easterling said of his son.

The Blue defense stepped up, held the White team and closed out the win.

“The defense stepped up and took care of It,” Grayson recalled.

While the game was about football, the experience was much more.

“Heck yes,” he responded when asked if he enjoyed it.

“I think it was the best week of my life. I learned, I met some great people from Tunica, Carrollton, all over. It was awesome,” Easterling concluded.

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