Cooney extends range in 2018, lands on national award watch list

Doane placekicker Bryce Cooney has a big leg.

He made a 51-yard field goal in the Tigers’ 57-3 win at Friends on August 25 – just two yards shy of the school record.

“I didn’t really want to know what the school record was,” Cooney said, “in case if I ever do get the chance to take it back, because it’ll just get in my head. But, it’s exciting for sure. I can’t wait to hopefully get back there.”

Cooney landed on the Fred Mitchell Award watch list on August 27. The award goes to the most oustanding kicker from the FCS level on down.

Cooney was the only candidate from the NAIA. He’s hit from 60 yards in practice this fall, and hopes to show more of that range during the season.

“I definitely had to test out 53 (yards) this practice already to see if I can get it there, and I can.”

Off the field, Cooney is a member of Doane’s Delta Kappi Pi fraternity, where he helps out with numerous community service activities.

“(The community) has given so much to me already,” Cooney said. “Just being out here on the football field is a privilege. I like to give back as much as I can. I’ve been pretty privileged, so whatever I can do to help others out is always good to get out there.”

Cooney assists in organizing community service activities each semester, including highway roadside clean-up, camp ground clean-up, Girls on the Run, and Relay for Life.

With the football team, he helps with the annual Football Youth Day and the clean up and preparation of the Crete Community Garden each spring.

In his hometown of Omaha, Cooney mentors middle school and high school kickers, working on technique and mental preparedness for games.

“(Bryce) is a great teammate and citizen,” Doane first-year head coach Chris Bessler said. “Academically, very good. A lot of community service. Bryce is a great kid.”

When he was on the football field last year, Tigers’ first-year head coach (and special teams coach) Chris Bessler watched Cooney earn first-team all-GPAC Conference honors at special teams.

In 2017, Cooney connected on 6-of-8 field goals and kicked 11 touchbacks after taking over midway through the season.

“Bryce is a threat from anywhere,” Bessler said. “Game one, we’re trying 51-52 yarders, I have a lot of confidence in his leg. It’s very strong. There’s a lot of confidence in what’s happening in our special teams. Bryce is a major component of that.”

Doane starts its conference schedule on Saturday, traveling to Sioux Center, Iowa to face the Dordt College Defenders. Kickoff from Open Space Park is set for 1 p.m. central.

Coverage begins at 12:30 on KUTT 99.5 FM and will stream live here.

Doane is 9-1 all-time vs. Dordt. The Tigers’ only loss to Dordt came last season, when the Defenders stunned No. 12 Doane, 21-16, on homecoming in Crete.

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