There was no hesitation by New Berlin Eisenhower coach Matt Kern when deciding to send Bryce Wesling out for a 51-yard field goal in the first quarter of a Level 1 playoff game against Wisconsin Lutheran.
That's because he knew his kicker had plenty of leg to drill the kick, which broke a school record by over 10 yards.
“The 51-yard field goal in the playoff game against Wisconsin Lutheran was one of the best that you’ll ever see in a high school game," Kern said. "It is one I’ll remember for a long time.
“It’s quite an advantage in high school when you have a kicker that has 50-plus yard field goal range and the ability to kick a touchback on the majority of his kickoffs; Bryce’s ability to do both of things equally well proved to be quite a weapon for us.”
Wesling made 6 of his 8 field-goal attempts and 40 of 42 extra-point attempts to earn a spot on the Now Newspapers All-Suburban team. He also averaged 37.8 yards per punt to earn honorable mention All-Suburban honors as a punter.
Now a multi-sport athlete at Eisenhower, Wesling didn't begin playing football until he was in eighth grade. Having played soccer, he knew he had a natural ability to kick. Wesling immediately began soaking up knowledge from then-Lions kicker Nathan Erickson, who plays at Western Illinois.
He took over placekicking duties his junior season after Erickson graduated, making 3 of 7 field-goal attempts and 37 of 41 extra-point attempts.
"I worked with (Erickson) a lot in eighth grade and in my freshman and sophomore years," Wesling said. "After he graduated, my junior year was my first opportunity to kick at the varsity level. I wasn't very consistent with everything my junior year, but this year I felt more comfortable kicking and being out there. I felt like I wasn't nervous at all this year compared to my junior year.
"When I was nervous I wasn't thinking about making the kick. I was thinking about what I was going to do wrong. This year I was just thinking about making the field goal and wasn't thinking about the negative stuff."
There were no nerves when Wesling went out for the 51-yard try against Wisconsin Lutheran.
"Coach Kern gave me a look when it was fourth down, and we had quite a bit to go," Wesling said. "He gave me a look like, 'Do you want to kick this?' I was like, 'Of course I do.' I was kicking in warmups and was hitting them from 52. I knew I had the leg to do it. I just had to hit the ball. When I got out there I didn't have to line up or anything because it was dead center, so that helped me.
"I wasn't worried about slipping either because it was pretty early in the game, and the field was fine. I wasn't thinking too much. The snap came, I did what I usually do and I hit it better than the other kicks I was hitting that day. When it came off my foot, I knew it had the distance. But looking at it I thought it was going to miss left, but it just snuck in."
A first-team All-Woodland West selection last season in baseball, Wesling is exploring his options to potentially kick and play baseball collegiately. Minnesota-Duluth was recently at Eisenhower for a visit, while Division 3 schools have also expressed interest.
In addition to Wesling, Eisenhower had nine players earn honorable mention All-Suburban honors in quarterback Bryce Miller, running back Joey Scaffidi, wide receiver Stephen Halusan, tight end Joe Lang, offensive linemen Dylan Abbott and Mike Keller, defensive lineman Adam Lancaster, linebacker Max Maier and defensive back Brett Angiolo.
Kern also received honorable mention honors as a coach for his efforts in leading the Lions to a 7-3 record.