Except for that one time last Friday during Stonewall’s 42-17 win over Osbourn Park.
The Raiders (6-4) had just taken a 13-3 lead over the Yellow Jackets and were preparing to boot the extra point when an offsides penalty against Osbourn Park moved the ball three feet closer to the goal line.
That prompted Raiders Coach Mike Dougherty to green-light the team’s “Timmah” package, which it had installed for just a situation.
“Ever since freshman or sophomore year, I was always telling coach, ‘just give me the ball,’” Settle said.
The 310-pound, highly-coveted Football Bowl Subdivision recruit set up in the shotgun, flanked by a wing-back in a truly unique expression of the wildcat formation.
Settle, who says he excelled as a ball carrier throughout his youth – especially at quarterback – saw defenders’ eyes widen as they stacked the box, anticipating a keeper right up the gut.
Instead, Settle caught the snap and steered right, taking his only carry through the four-hole between the guard and tackle.
“[The defenders] were so confused, they just put everybody up on the line,” Settle said. “I had to lower my shoulder and just kinda push myself through there. I knew I didn’t have that far to go.”
As the special teams unit jogged off the field — 15-3 lead in tow – the expected chuckles and cheers of “Big Timmy” erupted from the Raiders sideline.
“They were laughing,” Settle said. “Even I thought it was funny. But anything to help my team win.”
First-year place kicker carries Forest Park
The soccer lifer seldom thought about trying another sport and admits he had a tenuous grasp of football rules before this fall.
A week before two-a-days started back in August, Ayala finally caved to his buddy Ebenezer Agyemang’s incessant coaxing to try out for the team’s kick vacancy.
“I figured, if I don’t like it, I’ll just stop trying out,” Ayala said. “I ended up falling in love with the sport. I liked the hustle, and I liked the intensity of it.”
And his skill set was just what the Bruins needed. In Friday’s 20-18 win over Woodbridge, Ayala drilled two field goals, including a 45-yard game winner inside the final minute.
Even though Forest Park (7-2) was facing a fourth-and-nine situation, it still took a leap of faith from Coach David Coccoli to call upon Ayala.
“That’s way over his range,” Coccoli said. “In practice, he’s never made anything over 38 yards. When he makes a 37-yarder, he clears it by 10 yards. It was always like a glass ceiling. Whenever we’d put the ball back any farther, he’d never make it.”
Coccoli tried to dole out some 11th-hour encouragement to Ayala before he took the field. Ayala doesn’t remember that. He had tunnel vision.
“I was just thinking one thing only, and that was to just make it in,” Ayala said.
He made it with five yards to spare.