Many high school football players have their eyes on the "pros," and John Heiss of Laurel is no exception.
What makes John's dream a little different is that he plays the sport with a prosthetic foot, and according to his coach at the Laurel Boys and Girls Club, Barry Hayden, "For his age, he's about the best I've ever seen."
Heiss, 15, was born without a left foot, but the condition has not hampered his dreams of becoming a star kicker for the Washington Redskins.
The tall, blond high school sophomore said that when he first went out for football most people weren't aware that he wore a prosthesis. When he took it off at practice once, "Everyone thought it was kind of amazing."
He plays for the Laurel Boys and Girls Club and hopes to get a spot on the Laurel High School team next September. He missed his chance this past year by signing up too late in the season.
"I've always wanted to go out for kicking," Heiss said.
Although Heiss has a lot of confidence in his ability, "I did better this year than I ever thought I was going to do," he said recently.
He added he has a lot to thank his coach for. "The coach sent me out there to kick when we needed the points. This helped me a lot mentally and physically.
"I always wanted to kick the winning field goal," Heiss said.
He was given his opportunity during the county championship game against Clinton. "The score was tied," said Heiss, his face lighting up as he recalled the memorable event.
"I was sent out to kick a 30-yard field goal." He didn't falter. With the three extra points, he brought his team home county champions.
"My longest field goal was 45 yards," he quietly added, trying not to sound as though he was bragging.
With a little encouragement, he continued: "It was against Kettering. We were ahead 6-0 with three seconds to go. We were going to win anyway, but my coach just let me put a little icing on the cake."
Heiss compares his kicking style to Mark Moseley of the Washington Redskins. "I think I kick just like him," he said. "He kicks with his right leg while I kick with my left. I guess you could say he's my idol."
How does he kick the ball so far? "My prosthesis is on my left leg. It weighs about five pounds. I think the rest of the leg got built up because it is so heavy."
Coach Hayden has a few more thoughts. "John has a lot of natural ability. He wanted to be a kicker so bad. He built it up in his mind. We taught him to concentrate, to watch what he was doing, but we really didn't have to teach him much else."
Heiss' efforts were recognized this past year, when he was one of four football players in his league to receive the Commissioner's Award, given annually by the commissioner of the county Boys Club league to players who have exhibited remarkable ability.