Boston High School: Kevin MacDonald

NEPSAC: Milton Academy 62, Dexter 18

November, 16, 2013
11/16/13
10:02
PM ET
BROOKLINE, Mass. – Together they formed an unstoppable gridiron duo.

The Milton Academy senior running back – a proven ground gainer capable of wearing down opposing defenses and the reigning Independent School League MVP – amassed 205 rushing yards on 25 carries that included four second-half touchdowns. And, despite a hamstring injury that sidelined him in the Mustangs season finale and nearly relegated him to decoy status against Dexter School, he committed only one miscue: a fumble on the second play from scrimmage.

The other – an upstart sophomore identified early in the season by Milton’s 18-year head coach Kevin MacDonald as ‘special’ – positively dominated the air attack on both sides of the ball. He contributed four catches for 87 yards on offense and two interceptions defensively, production that netted him three touchdowns overall.

On Saturday afternoon, this tandem, otherwise known as Drew Jacobs and Domenic Cozier, provided the collective punch necessary to propel Milton to a 62-18 victory over host Dexter in the Tom Flaherty New England Championship Bowl game.

“We have more confidence and swagger when he’s out there,” said MacDonald of Jacobs’ questionable status. “He fumbled the first one. He literally had maybe taken one handoff in practice.

“I thought this was maybe just going to be a ceremonial thing where he got a few snaps and then we put somebody else in. So I was shocked when he actually did what he did. That was pure guts.”

As for Jacobs’ heir apparent, Cozier, MacDonald was far less surprised with the underclassman’s breakout performance.

“He had an unbelievable game,” said MacDonald of the sophomore. “I’ve said all year that I think he’s a special player because he never gives up and he’s super athletic. He can sky. He runs a four-five forty, he’s got a 39-inch vertical (and) he’s just a very athletic kid. Plus, he has a terrific attitude.

“Maybe we’ve underutilized him a little bit this year, but today he just didn’t allow us to underutilize him. He made plays.”

TURNING POINT: With Milton leading 27-12 at the half, Dexter received the kickoff to start the second-half. On the second play from scrimmage, senior quarterback Luke Cuneo hit senior wide receiver Mark Webber for what appeared to be a short gain along the right sideline. But Webber wrestled through four arm tackles and raced 72 yards for what turned out to be a 78-yard touchdown only 50 seconds into the frame.

It was a play that seemed to awaken Milton and, in particular, Jacobs.

“I was pissed when they scored,” he admitted. “We all were.”

The response from Milton was emphatic. The Mustangs – behind three touchdown runs by Jacobs – reeled off 28 unanswered third quarter points to turn a 27-18 advantage into a 55-18 blowout 11:10 later.

Jacobs ripped off scoring runs of 35, 18 and 10 yards using a series of stutter steps and cutbacks to evade defenders. And while his trademark burst wasn’t there given his lingering hamstring woes, the senior displayed know-how to be productive even with his health at less than 100 percent.

“The line in the second half,” he explained,” those holes were huge. Coach (Paul) Healey said, ‘Anybody could have run through those holes in the second half.’

“I started slow. I was a little nervous about the hamstring. But it felt good towards the end.”

And sandwiched in between Jacobs’ first and second touchdown was Cozier’s pick-six, a play in which he corralled the interception off a deflection and zigzagged 38 yards for a touchdown that gave the Mustangs a 41-18 lead with 6:58 left in the third quarter.

Jacobs went on to add a fourth touchdown on a three-yard, which effectively closed out the scoring, midway through the fourth quarter.

HE’S ONLY A SOPH-O-MORE!: While Jacobs carried the load over the final 24 minutes, Cozier’s first-half play was paramount in keeping the Mustangs competitive.

After Dexter scored by way of a Luke Cuneo three-yard draw on its first possession – a drive set up at midfield by Jacobs’ fumble – to take a 6-0 lead, Cozier hauled in a 45-yard touchdown pass that included 25 yards after the catch, which he gained using a collection of spin moves, jump cuts and head fakes to outmaneuver Dexter’s secondary.

“We watched film on them and they couldn’t really control the pass,” he said. “So we had a game plan of just throwing over a lot . . . the post wheel, and we got it.”

Cozier’s second touchdown reception was even more impressive.

With Milton clinging to a 13-12 lead halfway through the second quarter after Cuneo connected with C.J. Okafor for a 51-yard scoring strike, Cozier made an acrobatic 22-yard catch along the right sideline of the end zone in which he turned and out-jumped two defenders. His deft body control somehow kept him inbounds when he landed from his jump.

On the whole, Cozier’s performance had more than just his coach raving.

“Dom played unbelievable,” Jacobs said. “I think he was the MVP. That’s who you should be interviewing.”

COSTLY MISCUES: Lost amidst the dominant performances of Jacobs and Cozier were the mistakes made by Dexter.

In addition to Cozier’s pick-six in the third quarter, Dexter also had both a blocked punt and strip sack returned for touchdowns.

The blocked punt occurred with 4:18 left in the first quarter when deep in its own territory, Milton’s Ethan Webster-Zinn deflected the punt at Dexter’s 10-yard line and teammate Matthew Morin scooped up the ball and rumbled into the end zone.

Trailing 20-12, Dexter again committed a turnover which resulted in points.

With time winding down in the first half, Milton’s Morin broke through the defensive line and flushed Cuneo to his right. As Morin pulled Dexter’s QB to the ground the ball popped out. In one fluid motion, Milton’s Sean Sylva grabbed the ball and raced 51 yards for the score and a 27-12 lead with 53.2 seconds left.

“That’s a great team over there,” said Dexter coach Casey Day of Milton. “They capitalized on every mistake that we made today and that’s what champions do.”

HISTORICAL SUCCESS: In MacDonald's tenure, Milton, which finished the season with an 8-1 record, has established itself as a perennial NEPSAC football power.

On Saturday, MacDonald picked up his third bowl win in his 18 years leading the Mustangs program, and first since 2008. Milton also captured a title back in MacDonald’s inaugural season (1996) coaching in the ISL.

Meanwhile, Dexter (7-2), which is only in its 11th season competing at the varsity level, reached a bowl for the first time in school history.

And while only one school received the Tom Flaherty New England Championship Bowl, the success of the upstart, albeit defeated, program was not lost on either coach.

“Casey’s done a great job with that program,” MacDonald said. “They’ve probably played football for 10 years or less. And to get to a New England Championship game . . . he’s really got some athletes. I think he’s really just done a tremendous job. Things just went our way today.”

“I couldn’t be prouder of our guys,” Day said. “Things didn’t turn out how we wanted them to today. But we have an unbelievable group of seniors that got us to this point. I tip my cap to those guys. They’ve built this program basically from the bottom. When they were freshmen we were at the bottom of the barrel and now we’re up near the top.”

MILTON 62, DEXTER 18
M - 13 - 14 - 28 - 7 --- 62
D - 6 - 6 - 6 - 0 --- 18

First Quarter
D - Luke Cuneo 3 run (pass failed) 9:47
M - Domenic Cozier 41 pass from Anthony Scurto (kick failed) 5:08
M - Matthew Morin 10 blocked punt return (Jaejung Joon kick) 4:18

Second Quarter
D - C.J. Okafor 51 pass from Cuneo (pass failed) 6:50
M - Cozier 22 pass from Scurto (Joon kick) 4:04
M - Sean Sylva 51 fumble return (Joon kick) :53.2

Third Quarter
D - Mark Webber 78 pass Cuneo (pass failed) 11:10
M - Drew Jacobs 35 run (Joon kick) 7:47
M - Cozier 38 interception return (Joon kick) 6:58
M - Jacobs 18 run (Joon kick) 4:11
M - Jacobs 10 run (Joon kick) :24.6

Fourth Quarter
M - Jacobs 3 run (Joon kick) 6:55

Recap: Milton Academy 35, Governor's Academy 14

October, 27, 2013
10/27/13
12:32
AM ET
MILTON, Mass. --- The two top teams in the ISL took the field on Saturday in a pivotal league match-up between undefeated (5-0) powers, Governor’s Academy and Milton Academy.

Gov’s entered Saturday’s game riding a state-best 23-game winning streak, dating back to opening day 2011.

“We knew about the winning streak and we set our minds on staying sharp all week during practice and preparing as a team.” Milton Academy safety Nelson Thomas said after the game. “We were focused on coming out and putting our foot to the gas peddle right away.”

Milton Academy would do just that, as they led from start to finish, en route to a convincing, 35-14, victory over the two-time defending league champions.

“It was just a great win,” Milton Academy head coach Kevin MacDonald said after the game. “Beating a team like that and beating them soundly was kind of a surprise and just terrific.”

Milton Academy (6-0) was led by running back Drew Jacobs, who played like a man possessed on the afternoon, starring on both sides of the ball and running for 194 yards and four touchdowns (3 rushing, 1 INT).

“Winning the ISL has been our goal all along, from day one,” Jacobs explained. “This was a great win but we need to keep working each day to accomplish our ultimate goals.”

Jacobs would make an immediate impact on the game as he intercepted a first quarter pass and returned it 40 yards for a score, to give the Mustangs a 7-0 first quarter lead.

“I thought our defense did a terrific job and Drew Jacobs, as usual, was just great,” MacDonald said.

Milton quarterback Anthony Scurto showed impressive leadership, calmly running the offense all afternoon, as he picked his spots to shine.

After a key fourth down stop and leading 14-7 Scurto would conclude the first half by scrambling and finding wide receiver Jack Urquhart in the end zone, with 9.6 seconds remaining in the first half, to give the Mustangs a critical 21-7 halftime lead.

Big Play Second Half: It would become apparent that big plays would dictate Saturday’s game as the second half featured numerous swing plays that would favor the Mustangs.

Known for their frequent second half comebacks, Gov’s seized momentum at numerous points in the second half, only to be thwarted by the Milton Academy defense.

Milton defensive back Jack Cahill made the play of the game as he dove to break up a pass over the middle, rolled over on the ground, and still managed to bring in the interception.

Milton defensive end Peter Graves, who has been a presence in opposing backfields all season, made the game-sealing defensive play as he exploded off the line and recorded a strip sack, that teammate William Medina would recover, late in the fourth quarter of play.

“The biggest thing today is that we just made the big plays,” MacDonald stressed.

Game Notes:
  • With two games remaining on the 2013 ISL football calendar Milton Academy now controls their own fate as they sit on top of the ISL with a 6-0 record. St. Sebastian’s defeated previously undefeated BB&N on Friday, 24-14.
  • Milton Academy freshman cornerback Michael Silva continued to impress with his veteran-like abilities and phenomenal ball skills. Silva intercepted his fifth pass of the season in the second half to give him the unofficial league lead through six games.
  • Despite not kicking any field goals on Saturday junior standout Justin Yoon showed his extreme value once again as his once-in-a-generation leg consistently booted touchbacks and gave Gov’s (5-1) little room to work with all afternoon.
  • Milton punter Austin Johnson, who MacDonald highlighted and praised after the game, also played a large role in the contest as he pinned Gov’s deep on multiple occasions and showed beautiful technique and execution punting the football.
  • Gov’s quarterback Tommy Vailas tossed two touchdowns to account for both scores as he found Jesse Gwozdz and Zach Coffey in the first and second half respectively.
  • Gov’s standout and All ISL performer Bug Carper left Saturday’s game with an apparent serious ankle injury. The North Carolina lacrosse commit, who is one of the top all-around athletes in the ISL, was injured on a play in which he ran the ball into a pile of Milton defenders, only to be bent back deep in Milton territory.
  • Gwozdz continued to show why he is regarded as one of the top overall players in New England. The Fairfield lacrosse commit, made plays in all three facets of the game, and showed his versatility out of the offensive backfield, as well as usual strong play from the outside edge on defense.

Recap: Milton Academy 33, Roxbury Latin 14

October, 12, 2013
10/12/13
11:22
PM ET
DEDHAM, Mass. -- The halfway point of the football season is a perfect time to take stock of what you have accomplished and what you need to continue to improve on.

On Saturday afternoon Milton Academy improved to 4-0 at the midpoint of their season, as they defeated Roxbury Latin, 33-14, on a damp and soggy afternoon in Dedham.

After going 5-3 in 2012, one would think that an undefeated ISL record at the mid-season mark would create happiness on the Mustang sideline.

“We have to play a lot better than that,” Milton Academy head coach Kevin MacDonald said after the game. “Roxbury Latin played us really tough today. They outplayed us in a lot of ways, especially in the first half, and we have to do a much better job offensively.”

Milton Academy has now outscored its first four opponents by a score of 145-69, and its veteran defensive unit is playing at a very high level.

“None of us are happy with the game today, which is weird because we won 33-14,” Milton Academy senior linebacker Matt Morin said after the game. “I actually think that is why it is clicking this year. We are never satisfied and we are always trying to get better each week, because being champions is the goal, not being 4-0.”

Both teams struggled early on in the game to find any offensive rhythm as the defensive fronts dictated play at the line of scrimmage, thus eliminating any offensive flow.

Milton Academy would get on the board first as freshman defensive back Michael Silva made a nice read and break on a Peter Cahill pass for a 13-yard interception return for a touchdown.

Roxbury Latin (1-3) would answer right back at the eight minute mark in the first quarter, as Cahill would execute a nice play action pass to find a streaking Sean Lowrie (104 receiving yards, one touchdown) down field for an 80-yard touchdown strike.

Lowrie’s touchdown would be the final Roxbury Latin score until the fourth quarter of play, as Milton Academy locked in and ran off 26 straight points.

The Milton Academy defense was led by defensive end Peter Graves, who had a career day and one of the better individual defensive efforts of the young season. The 6-foot-2, 220 pound senior was everywhere for the Mustangs, registering 4.5 sacks along with a key blocked punt, that was returned for a touchdown by teammate Sean Sylva.

“That was just a great play,” MacDonald said. “He was really something today.”

Roxbury Latin, playing without two of their top players in Boston College commit Kevin Cohee and junior Alex Abelite, played solid defense throughout the game despite battling unfavorable field position throughout.

Milton Academy running back Drew Jacobs continued his workhorse efforts for the victors as he gained 101 yards from scrimmage, including a 25-yard third quarter touchdown run.

Milton Academy also received strong games from safety Nelson Thomas, quarterback Anthony Scurto, defensive end William Medina (1.5 sacks) and running back Dom Frazier (45-yard third quarter touchdown run).

Roxbury Latin tight end/ defensive end Steven Daley (3-yard TD reception), defensive tackle Sean Rose, and linebacker Mark Goodstein all played well in the loss.

Impressive Senior Unit: The Milton Academy senior linebacking unit of OLBs Jacobs and Luke MacDonald and MLB Morin continued to show why they are one of the top units in New England.

Jacobs and MacDonald provided speed to the ball and contained the edge, while Morin led the unit from his middle linebacker position, stuffing the run and penetrating the backfield in the mold of run-stuffing Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes.

“Morin is just an outstanding football player,” Coach MacDonald said. “I think Luke MacDonald played real well today and Drew does it for us game in and game out.”

Morin came up with a big second half sack and made three tackles-for-loss, while MacDonald and Jacobs flew around the ball all afternoon.

“I think we really set the tone because we are all in for this season and we have been since last November,” Morin said of the veteran defensive group. “That mentality is contagious and it trickles down to underclassmen like Bobby Gilmore, Johnny Lawson, Jeff Brown, Mike Silva and Dom Cozier.”

The X-Factor: Despite connecting on just one of three field goal attempts, kicker Justin Yoon proved again why he is such an important factor in Milton Academy’s success.

Playing with a heavy heart, due to the passing of his grandfather on Saturday, Yoon executed 6-of-6 touchbacks on his kickoffs. The touchbacks forced Roxbury Latin to begin their offensive drives 80 yards away from the end zone.

“It is a great weapon for us,” MacDonald said. “It is just terrific when there are no returns, and there were none today."

Recap: Milton Academy 38, Lawrence Academy 20

October, 5, 2013
10/05/13
10:03
PM ET
Milton, Mass. -- It can now be said that Milton Academy belongs in the conversation.

When the pundits started the discussion as to which teams were the front-runners in the ISL during the preseason, few, if any, spoke of the Mustangs. Following a pedestrian 5-3 season a year ago, that was to be expected.

But three weeks into the regular season and lo-and-behold Milton Academy sits atop the league standings at 3-0, following tonight's 38-20 triumph over Lawrence Academy at Stokinger Field. In just three weeks, the Mustangs have already attained signature wins over two of the ISL power programs in St. Sebastian's and Lawrence Academy.

"As a team we knew we had the potential to be a good team," said Milton Academy senior running back Drew Jacobs. "We all worked very hard during the summer and believed in ourselves. We used the newspapers not saying much about us as motivation."

Jacobs, who is listed at 5-10,190 pounds, proved to be the catalyst behind this victory. The Marblehead native tore through the Spartans defense for 175 yards on 25 carries, finding the end zone three times.

It was his 22-yard gallop with 9:26 remaining in the third quarter which finally set the gears in motion, as it put the Mustangs, which finished with 356 yards offensively, ahead 17-7. But to Lawrence Academy's credit, it did not go down without a fight.

Minutes after the Jacobs' score, Spartan defensive back Tim Preston stepped in front of a Anthony Scurto pass and returned it 48 yards helping set up a 20-yard scoring strike from Kyle Howes to Chris Garrison and slicing the deficit to 17-14.

But the Spartans failed in their opportunity to seize the moment. On its next possession, Milton Academy drove 62 yards before Jacobs barreled in from 10 yards out to open the final quarter to push the Mustangs' advantage to 24-14. Once again, the Spartans (1-2) stormed back. After Austin Luckey secured a Scurto fumble, Lawrence Academy turned that into points as freshman A.J. Dillon scored on a 4-yard run to make it a 24-20 contest with 6:46 on the clock.

Despite their efforts to hang with Milton Academy, the Spartans defense failed to come up with a big play when they needed to. On the Mustangs' ensuing possession, Scurto, who finished with 123 yards on 8-of-10 passing, found receiver John Cahill for a key 38-yard reception on third-and-11. Jacobs, who finished with 175 yards on 25 attempts, busted up the middle for 24 yards, setting up his own 1-yard keeper over the goal line with 2:40 showing and increased Milton Academy's lead to 31-20.

"Drew is just a great football player and he's all football," said Milton Academy head coach and recently-inducted Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Hall-of-Famer Kevin MacDonald. "He's just a great football player."

Now in desperation mode, the Spartans needed to rectify their passing game in a hurry.

It seemed to be effective once Howe connected with Preston on a 60-yard pitch-and-catch, moving the ball to the Mustangs' 25. But on the next play, Howe (11-of-25 passing for 152 yards) was picked off by Cahill, who returned it 78 yards untouched to advance Milton Academy's margin to 18 points with just over a minute remaining, and, in the process, close the book on Lawrence Academy, which gained 261 yards.

"Our goal is to get better every week and I think we are," MacDonald said. "We need to get over a few things. We seem to come out at the beginning of games and don't play much defense and then later in the game we start to tighten things up. We need to smarten up and play defense right off the bat. We have good resiliency and we don't quit so I do like that about our team. I don't think we'll ever give up. We're always going to be a good offensive team but sometimes we don't play the type of defense I would like to see us play."

That defense was nowhere to be found early. On their first possession, the Spartans grabbed the early lead. Following a Mustangs’ fumble on their opening drive, Lawrence Academy marched 65 yards before Dillon (60 yards on 17 carries) capped it off with a 1-yard touchdown run. Unable to sustain any momentum in the early going, Milton Academy finally settled for a Justin Yoon 48-yard field goal midway into the second quarter to make it 7-3.

A few minutes later, senior linebacker Matt Morin pounced on a Howes’ fumble giving the Mustangs the ball at the Spartans’ 33. That would eventually lead to a Scurto 3-yard touchdown run to put Milton Academy in front, 10-7, with just 27 seconds to go before halftime. Fortunate to take the lead heading into the break, Milton Academy was able to parlay its momentum off of that late score into 28 second half points and roll on to victory.

"Our kids played OK but we're not a very good tackling team right now," Lawrence Academy head coach Paul Zukauskas said. "Today that was the difference. We have some very good players on our team but they didn't tackle well. Both teams worked really hard but for us, it comes down to blocking and tackling and tonight that was the difference."

Recap: Milton Academy 31, St. Seb's 27

September, 21, 2013
9/21/13
10:56
PM ET
MILTON, Mass. –- If St. Sebastian’s and Milton Academy had played five minutes longer on Saturday afternoon, we could very well have seen a different result. In a fast-paced offensive game that was back-and-forth the whole second half, Milton was able to pull out the victory over the visiting Arrows, 31-27.

Drew Jacobs anchored the Mustangs’ (1-0) offensive attack with 139 yards, making his presence felt during Milton’s furious second half comeback.

St. Sebastian’s (0-1) Boston College-bound two-way star Connor Strachan (13 carries, 110 yards, TD) made his presence felt right off the bat on the Arrows’ first two drives. St. Sebastian’s finished with two touchdowns on the opening drives to show for their effort. Strachan ran in a three-yard touchdown, while quarterback Geoff Wade (8-10, 118 yards, 3 TD, INT) threw a touchdown pass to Matt Daniel (4 rec, 53 yards, 3 TD) to put the Arrows up 14-3 early on.

Enter Jacobs.

Playing hurt and with his team in desperate need of a big play, Jacobs came up with just that, bringing a kick return back 74 yards, setting up the Mustangs in prime position at the Arrows' six yardline. On the next play, Jacobs ran in a touchdown to bring the score to 14-10.

“The guys blocked for me well, I was able to keep my feet. I’m too slow so I couldn’t get in the endzone,” he joked.

Minutes later, St. Sebastian’s extended the lead once again, on Matt Daniels’ second touchdown catch of the day. The play was made possible by tight end Tyson Mattox, who laid down a big block to open up a hole for Daniels. The Mustangs were able to answer before the end of the half though, on a beautifully thrown ball by Anthony Scurto to receiver Domenic Cozier. Cozier, a re-classified sophomore who came to Milton by way of Milford High School, made an awe-inspiring catch in the back of the endzone to bring the lead down to four right before halftime.

“He’s gonna be good, he’s a 4.5 40 guy; he’s got wheels," Milton coach Kevin MacDonald said. "He’s fast, he’s a good player. He’s a repeat sophomore from Milford High, but he was a running back there, and we’ve got him playing receiver and a little defense too. He’s a very good player."

The Mustangs made a couple slight defensive adjustments at halftime, and the changes paid dividends immediately, as freshman defensive back Michael Silva picked up a St. Sebastian’s fumble and brought it back 45 yards to the end zone, giving Milton their first lead of the ballgame.

“We did a horrible job in the first half, but we did a nice job in the second half," MacDonald said. "We switched a couple guys from defensive end to tackle, that helped, and we went to a four-point stance and we got under them. That second half defense was great."

Wade found Daniel once again minutes later. It was their third hookup of the day, giving the Arrows back the lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Milton’s offense answered one last time though, as Scurto threw an 18-yard touchdown pass with 9:16 left in the fourth quarter, giving Milton a 31-27 lead.

“The offense played well the whole game, we didn’t get stopped too many times," MacDonald said. "Our running game was good the offensive line did a great job, and our quarterback is a veteran -- he’s a good player and he made plays when he had to."

It was Milton’s defense though, that gave the Mustangs possession with just over three minutes to go, following an interception by Luke MacDonald. Thereafter, Milton fed Jacobs the ball in hope that a few more first downs would help them seal the win.

Once again, the senior answered the call, breaking off for three straight first downs.

“Drew Jacobs was terrific. He was not 100 percent we didn’t know if he was going to play, but he did a great job,” Maconald said. “He’s a great player, he’s been a great player for three years. He’s arguably the best player in the league, so it’s not a shock. What was shocking is that he wasn’t able to practice all week, he was banged up, but it didn’t seem to affect him much.”

Jacobs said the emotion of playing a St. Sebastian’s team which has beaten Milton two years in a row was all the motivation he needed to step on the field.

“It was all adrenaline. We’ve been talking about this game all summer, we lost to them the last two years in close games, so this is the greatest win ever, this is awesome,” Jacobs said, with a bottle of ibuprofen in hand. “We’ve got St. George’s next week, so we’ll enjoy it tonight and get back to work Monday.”

Yoon speaks softly, carries a big boot

October, 29, 2012
10/29/12
12:06
AM ET


BELMONT, Mass. – The Milton Academy football team was celebrating an impressive 40-10 win over Independent School League rival Belmont Hill when Mustangs head coach Kevin MacDonald summoned sophomore place kicker Justin Yoon.

“Justin Yoon,” MacDonald’s voice boomed across the field.

Yoon, who was helping clear up the sideline at the time, quickly swung his head around and responded, “Yes, sir.”

Always aiming to please, Yoon dutifully came jogging across the field. His coach commented on how much his teammates enjoy having him around. The life of a kicker can sometimes be a lonely one, but Yoon’s very much a member of this Mustangs team.

But Yoon’s journey to Milton and his ascent to being ranked a top sophomore placekicking prospect in the nation is an unlikely one.

“I never really knew what football was until I was introduced in eighth grade,” Yoon said after Saturday’s victory. “That’s what it started with, basically.”

Yoon was born in Ohio, but his family is of Korean descent. His parents – father, Jiseop, and mother, Mihwa – currently reside in the Nashville, Tennessee area while Justin boards at Milton Academy. His father played soccer at Governor’s Academy in addition to being an Olympic figure skater. Jiseop also got Justin into soccer from a young age, perhaps the origin of his youngest son’s booming leg.

Soccer was Justin’s first athletic love. Football wasn’t on his radar until eighth grade, however. That’s when the football coach at Nashville’s Harding Academy suggested he try kicking.

“That’s where I learned how to kick,” Yoon said. “Then, when I switched over to football, I just kept on kicking, and it just stuck onto me. It just happened.”

Yoon opened eyes in his freshman year with the Mustangs. A 40-yard field goal in last year’s Belmont Hill game, played in monsoon conditions in Milton, was a highlight. Yoon made the kick with 15 yards to spare into a swirling wind.

He continued building his national reputation at a summer camp conducted by NFL legend Ray Guy and prokicker.com. Yoon was the best of his age group, averaging 60.75 yards per kickoff attempt at the Augusta, Georgia event. His longest kickoff of the day sailed a staggering 75 yards.

While Yoon presents an offensive weapon for MacDonald to use, his greatest asset might be in what he does to opposing offenses.

“He’s money in the bank,” MacDonald said of Yoon’s field goal tries. “But I think the best thing is just the fact that he kicks just about every kickoff off the field.”

During Saturday’s win over Belmont Hill, Yoon sent several kickoffs clear through the end zone – one of which had a near chance of flying through the uprights.

It’s Yoon’s favorite part of the game.

“The best part about the kickoff is that I can kick it as far I want, anywhere I want,” he said. “So I just want to make sure our team doesn’t have to put too much effort in trying to block the other team.”

Yoon said he’s taken to football, and he hopes to pursue his career into college. With Division 1 programs likely to come calling, Yoon’s set his sights on some of the best academic institutions in the nation, including the Ivys, Duke and Stanford.

With brains to go along with the golden boot, that doesn’t even tell what’s made Yoon so popular with his teammates.

“It’s great when a kid with that kind of ability is totally humble and just a sweet kid,” MacDonald said. “Everybody loves him, and being a kicker is kind of an odd thing at practice, so we set him up in the weight room every day and he works in the weight room with our strength coach and he never complains, he does exactly what we ask him to do.”

Likewise, Yoon credits his teammates.

“It was awkward at first,” Yoon said about the move to Milton Academy. “I’d never been to Massachusetts before. I’d never kicked on the field before. I’d never known anybody from MA [Milton Academy]. And then all my teammates they’d encourage me and helping me to be the kicker that I am right now.”

But MacDonald knows all too well who’s the person responsible for Yoon’s success.

“I’d love to say that we’re coaching him up and teaching him all these great things, but he’s kind of coaching himself,” MacDonald joked. “Every day, I have to say, ‘Justin, enough’s enough. You’re going to have no leg left.’”

And he still has plenty of leg to boot.

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