David Bervig is the first-year head football coach at The Classical Academy (Colorado Springs)
, yet he is far from a stranger with the Titans' program.
As a former youth instructor at the grade school level for the charter school, Bervig has watched a number of his current players grow through the TCA system. Sometimes, it seems like some of those "lifers" have been there forever.
That's why, once Bervig took the reins, he assumed he would be without the services of standout kicker Daniel Carlson
. After all, the kid had been around forever. Bervig was there when Carlson was asked to give kicking a try when he was a freshman, and he had watched him evolve into one of the most coveted placekicker recruits in the country.
Carlson was on his way to Auburn. Everyone knew that. So when it finally dawned on Bervig that Carlson actually still had his senior season to go, his first year at the helm suddenly became much more exciting.
"I thought he was gone," Bervig admitted with a chuckle. "It was like, ‘You mean we get him for another year?' Daniel is a special kid and it is a delight to have him on our team."
A soccer player while growing up, Carlson eventually took his booming right leg to the gridiron and developed into one of the top kickers in Colorado history.
Taking to the craft at the urgings of former TCA assistant Chris Coughlin, the extremely inexperienced Carlson knocked down 32 of 40 PAT attempts as a freshman in 2009 while making four field goals. Soon it became apparent that Carlson's track toward a college scholarship was best served as a placekicker instead of as a soccer player. His increased devotion to his new trade reaped swift dividends.
As a sophomore, Carlson was perfect on 28 PAT attempts while connecting for four field goals. Last year Carlson expanded his repertoire, averaging 40.7 yards on 25 punt attempts while knocking down another four field goals. Carlson also recorded touchbacks on 16 of 22 kickoffs.
"With high school rules, if he misses a field goal but gets it into the end zone it's a touchback," Bervig said. "If we don't think we can go for it on fourth down, if he doesn't make it, it's a punt anyway. It's incredible, and it changes how you call a game."
After turning heads at the prestigious Kohl's Underclassmen Challenge in January, Carlson received scholarship offers from Auburn, LSU, Oregon, and Air Force, among others. He committed to Auburn and will sign a national letter of intent on Signing Day in February.
"Auburn I just thought was the best fit. And it's nice because a lot of my mom's family is in Birmingham," Carlson said. "I liked the school and I got a great feel from it."
His college path cleared, Carlson is up to his old tricks so far this season for the Titans. Carlson has averaged 43.8 yards on five punts while converting all 10 of his PAT attempts. He recorded his first field goal of the season last week against Evergreen and has put all 13 of his kickoffs into the end zone.
Perhaps the only thing missing from Carlson's resume is the lack of a single last-minute attempt at a game-winner, the sort of big kick that could potentially make him an instant hero once he begins play in the Southeastern Conference with Auburn. TCA won its first two games by a combined score of 73-7, and while Carlson would prefer his team continue posting comfortable wins, he remains eager to show off his skills while the game clock ticks away.
"There have been a couple kicks in the last couple minutes to seal a win, stuff like that, but none in the last seconds," said Carlson, who indicated he would be confident attempting field goals from as far as 60 to 65 yards, depending on weather and game conditions.
"It would be awesome to hit a game-winner, but every kick is the same. All I try to do is keep working hard at practice. All that will come naturally if you put in the time and the hard work."