NORMAN — Norman North's Preston Couch was probably the most decorated punter in the state after his performances over the summer in a couple of camps.
He was named to the Ray Guy/ProKicker.com top 100 prospect list in June. Earlier this month, he was named to a preseason All-American watch list by the same site.
Couch, though, might not wind up being the best punter on his own team.
Couch and Redford Jones, both seniors, are locked in a battle to handle the punting duties for the Timberwolves.
Both will play elsewhere — Jones made the same watch list for kickers while Couch is the team's starting center — but competing for the punting job isn't something either takes lightly.
Jones thinks even when the punter for the season opener next week against Norman is decided, the competition will continue.
“I think we're going to be fighting for the position each week,” Jones said. “It's just going to come down to whoever's kicking better that week.”
Jones came to kicking through what has become the traditional route.
The longtime soccer player decided to give kicking a try in seventh grade and wound up winning the job.
He's stuck with soccer, helping Norman North win both state and national titles last year with an undefeated record.
But despite soccer being his first love, his heart is now drawn to football.
He made the decision over the summer to give up soccer — including his senior season with the defending champions — to concentrate on the opportunity to kick in college.
“I just thought it was the best decision for me, gaining some weight and getting stronger in my legs,” Jones said. “Plus, I thought that was a good way to end it, going out with a national championship.”
While Couch played soccer with Jones when he was younger, he took a different route to punting.
He punted for his seventh-grade team at Alcott Middle School in Norman but hadn't given much thought to trying it again until Wade Standley took the Norman North job last year.
That's when one of his friends and teammates, Keaton Haney, encouraged him to give it another try.
“So I did and Coach Standley said, ‘OK,'” Couch said. “It all went well I guess.”
For Couch, who moved from linebacker to the offensive line this year, punting is one more route to get to where he wants to go — playing college football.
“It definitely can't hurt,” Couch said.
Having the duo helps an already-strong defense with field position and takes pressure off its offense, something quarterback Peyton Gavras alluded to after Norman North's first scrimmage, a win over Edmond Santa Fe.
Jones hit a 48-yarder in a game last season and this summer hit a 60-yard field goal at a kicking camp without the benefit of a tee.
“It's definitely great for the team,” Jones said. “I don't know if there's another team in the state with two guys like us.
“Coach feels confident I'm going to hit field goals and whoever the punter is, we're going to do a good job.”