Andrew Gould’s years as a Murray County football player were during rough times for the program. The Indians had losing records all three seasons Gould lined up as the team’s place-kicker and compiled an 8-22 mark in that stretch. In two seasons of college football with the University of the South — located atop Monteagle Mountain in Sewanee, Tenn., some 45 minutes northwest of Chattanooga — Gould has been part of teams that have gone 5-5 and 2-8.

But for a guy who has never played on a winning football team, Gould has an optimistic shade of determination that you can’t help but believe will pay off for him one day — if not in athletics, then certainly in everyday life.

As for Gould, he’s convinced the dividends could very well be realized on the football field, sooner rather than later.

“The record doesn’t show the talent we have and will have,” said Gould, who believes the Tigers are bound to rally under first-year coach Robert Black. “I have a feeling coach Black will be able to use the talent wisely and hopefully turn things around while I’m there — and if not, within the next five years.”

Gould is making his own steady efforts to help ensure the Tigers can sink into a winning groove.

After earning the starting job at Sewanee as a freshman when a well-liked senior was injured, then holding on to it, Gould did his best to adjust to the pressure.

“It just took a little while,” he said. “It was just the freshman thing. Everybody goes through it. You’ve just got to stick with it.”

Gould made five of eight field goal attempts in 2005 and 12 of 16 extra points. He only had four field goal attempts last year — he expects his chances to go up with Black in charge — and made two, with one of the unsuccessful tries blocked. He was perfect on PATs, though, hitting all 16, and believes this fall could be even more fruitful in all areas of kicking.

A longtime youth soccer player, Gould followed in his older brother’s footsteps at Murray County. As Fred made his final kicks as a senior during the 2001 playoffs, Indians coach Bill Napier passed along an invitation for little brother Andrew — then a freshman — to try his foot at a new sport. Andrew went to some practices on a test run, decided he was in, then spent the next summer preparing.

He was the starting kicker for the next three years, although he was injured much of his junior season and didn’t begin handling kickoffs until he was a senior.

But Gould was able to find himself a spot in college football at Sewanee, which was once a giant of the game — the school’s storied 1899 team won five games in six days — but now plays well out of the big-time spotlight in Division III.

That’s OK, too. While Gould would like to see more support for athletics from the student body — something else he believes Black can change — he is flattered when former players recognize him and say hello. And college life, despite all the work of balancing football, classes and a work-study job on campus, has been very good to Gould.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Gould, who is aiming for law school once he leaves Sewanee. “It’s not like a big university, but there are some better aspects at a small school.”

As a kicker, Gould is coming full circle. After four years of attending Carol White’s kicking camps, he spent this summer as a counselor during sessions at Auburn and Coastal Carolina, teaching rising high school freshmen and sophomores.

“I’m the instructor now,” he said, “but I’m still learning.”

While home in Chatsworth over the summer, he’s also been working with Murray kicker Michael Lopez, a junior who won the starting job last season to help steady what had been a mostly shaky spot for the Indians since Gould graduated.

“I think I’ll be coming home a couple weekends to watch him,” Gould said. “Hopefully he’ll be putting on a show.”

Gould hasn’t been able to catch an Indians game since he started college, but has kept up enough to be frustrated by what he believes is an unhealthy focus by some Murray County supporters on getting out of Class 5A, where the Indians struggled to an 0-10 mark last year.

The aspiring lawyer argues that not only should decisions such as building a new high school have been driven by academics — he said the school’s hallways were crowded when he was there — but to think it’s imperative to flee 5A sends the wrong message to the school’s athletes. Gould played on teams that competed in the state’s highest classification in 2002 and 2003 and watched as teammates took on the challenge of playing against top-notch athletes by putting in extra work.

He’d like to see Murray County fans respond by believing playing in 5A is not a death sentence. He’d like to see Murray County players respond by recognizing their challenge is also an opportunity.

Gould believes the Indians are seeing future college football players on the other side of the field week in and out in 5A, and it’s a test he thinks those who want to someday play at the next level should relish.

“In my perspective, it was a motivational thing,” Gould said. “It forced me to push myself.”

He’s still pushing. Whether or not he’s ever a winner on the scoreboard, Gould already knows what it means to be a success.



Marty Kirkland is a sports writer for The Daily Citizen. You can write to him at martykirkland@daltoncitizen.com.

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