To kicker Andy Heagle, the whole pressure-packed situation at the end of the East Syracuse-Minoa football team's showdown with Fulton last Friday night was rather easy to deal with.
"It was just like every other field goal in practice," he said. "I knew I was going to make it. It was already good in my mind."
In this case, positive thoughts turned to positive action, in the form of a 26-yard field goal that soared high, deep -- and straight enough to give the Spartans a 10-7 victory over the Red Raiders and the early favorite's role in the Class A American division race.
ESM had just spent the last six minutes of regulation driving 67 yards, all on running plays, to Fulton's nine-yard line, wearing down the Red Raiders as backs Dustin Moss and Jaquan Williams took turns carrying the ball.
Still, the game was bound for overtime unless Heagle came through, as the clock showed just 2.5 seconds on it when the teams lined up for what the Spartans hoped was the decisive kick.
A senior, Heagle has the benefit of being a three-year varsity player, one of the last links remaining from ESM's 2006 Section III Class A title team.
"I was confident in him, and the players were so relaxed and confident (too)," said head coach Kevin DeParde. "I was more worried about the snap."
The snap was just fine, and so was Heagle's kick. One problem, though -- Fulton had incurred an encroachment penalty, which meant they had to do it all over again at the four-yard line. Then came another penalty, a false start, which pushed it back to the nine again.
Counting the penalties and Fulton's time-out attempt to freeze Heagle, the kicker had been out there for a while. But when it finally counted -- good snap, no flags anywhere -- Heagle ripped the 26-yarder through the uprights, and ESM had won.