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DeKalb's Ben Setchell lends a helping foot

Ben Setchell had a plan in place for football season.

The DeKalb senior was going to be a super fan. He’d go to games, paint his chest and act crazy every Friday night.

Things changed after the first couple weeks when DeKalb’s kicking troubles became obvious, even to those in the stands.

“I didn’t even know they needed a kicker, and I was at the game and I saw the performance of that game wasn’t so good,” Setchell said. “I knew they needed some help and I figured I could do it for them.” 

Setchell, along with a couple other prospective kickers, approached coach Matt Weckler about trying out. Outside of a half season in fifth grade, Setchell never had played football. He was a soccer player until high school, but never had been a football kicker.

But the Barbs were having big trouble finding a kicker and were forced to go for two-point conversions at times rather than kicking extra points. By Week 4, the Barbs weren’t even attempting extra points.

“The big thing we found out was we lost a couple games or got out of a couple games because we didn’t have a field goal kicker or extra-point kicker,” Weckler said. “The Hampshire game kind of took us out of what we needed to do and made us do some other things, have to go for two, fall behind and get two-score deficits because we didn’t have an extra-point kicker. Same thing for Sycamore.”

Setchell was the best kicker in DeKalb’s midseason tryouts, but per IHSA rules, he still had to participate in 10 practices before playing in a game.

His first opportunity was last week at Streator, and after the Barbs’ scored on their opening drive, Sethell was brought out for the extra point.

“It was a crazy experience,” Setchell said. “I definitely didn’t want to miss my first one and I didn’t want everyone to see that I missed my first one. I went out there and I just kept a cool head and it was just another kick with the team.”

His kick was true. And so were the next five extra-point attempts, recording a 6-for-6 night in his varsity debut. His only miss came on a 37-yard field goal attempt in the second half.

“That’s probably the most I’ve seen of a kicker do since I’ve been a coach, going six in a row without a miss,” Weckler said. “Usually, there’s a snap problem or a block problem or the defense makes a play. That’s a pretty big accomplishment, especially for a guy’s first time kicking in a varsity game.”

Last week, Setchell made a 37-yard field goal in practice and noted that he’s become more comfortable with kicking every day. Weckler said Setchell will be used in field goals moving forward, a drastic change from the Barbs’ consistent kicking woes in the first few weeks.

Last week’s game against Streator was on the road, so Setchell will get his first taste of the home-crowd atmosphere tonight.

“This home game, all my friends are going to be there, so it’s definitely going to be cool,” Setchell said. “I was going to be the super fan of the team and now I’m on it.”

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