Kickers Are People, Too

Tiger Football kicker and punter Harron Lee defies the long-standing stereotypes associated with those positions.


photo courtesy of Anthony Puthenpurackal

Harron Lee kicks a field goal in the rain during a home Pink Out game

Connor Smith, Staff Writer

The North Allegheny Football Team’s offense isn’t shy about scoring points, rushing for multiple touchdowns almost every game, and passing for quite a few as well.  Last week’s 65-13 rout over Hempfield was a case in point.

But the team’s high scorer is not one of the starting wide receivers, not the starting running back, not even the quarterback. That title belongs to placekicker Harron Lee, who is quick to add that he does not deserve all the credit.

“I guess it came a little easier to me because I played soccer,” said Lee, who began his football kicking career in middle school.

Lee, a junior, is also a punter, safety, and receiver for the the Tigers. But his accurate and powerful right leg has brought the most attention to Lee’s placekicking game. He is 25/26 this year, with a career-longest 51-yard field goal.

Lee started kicking in eighth grade when his Marshall Middle School coach needed a player in that role. With a background in soccer, kicking came naturally to Lee, who has continued kicking all the way through high school and now starts on the varsity roster.

Kicking is the glorious part of special teams that involves frequent point scoring and action, but it comes with a price.

“Everyone expects you to make a kick, but honestly it’s one of the hardest aspects of football,” Lee said. “You really don’t get praised if you do good in these things, but really receive some shade if you do bad.”

It’s hard to doubt Lee in that regard.  Bears fans hate Cody Parkey — the kicker who missed a field goal in the 2019 playoffs to lose the game — but don’t remember the Pro Bowl-caliber season he had before.

Lee embraces the pressure, though.

“Overall, I very much enjoy these elements, and it just makes football more fun for me,” he said.

Lee’s punting also does not go unnoticed in games, consistently leaving teams with a long way to the end zone and making sure to not outkick the coverage. Lee booms punts in situations where his defense really needs him to, and it makes his role on the team that much more important.

He also is in charge of kickoffs and relishes the rare opportunity to lay down a hit in a return.  For Lee, covering kicks and punts is just like playing the safety position, which happens to be his preferred position.

“Safety is my favorite. I enjoy calling the defense and tackling. I like seeing the opponents from the last man point of view,” he said.

The safety position requires instinct and athleticism, two words not often associated with kickers and punters.  But Lee, who also plays varsity baseball, helping the team to win the WPIAL Championship in 2021, continues to defy expectations.

But for all of his success as the Tiger placekicker, Lee is quick to add that he does not deserve all the credit.

“I wouldn’t be able to do any of it without my long-snapper Dom O’Barto and holder Tanner Potts,” he said.