Nash Acton had just one more chance to work with his father as a high school kicker.
The son of former Alabama kicker Chad Acton, Nash Acton transferred from Lamar School to Meridian High School this past season, where the elder Acton works as an athletic trainer and kicking coach. With his father supervising him, Nash Acton was hoping his skills as a kicker would improve.
They did, to the point where Acton is currently ranked No. 4 in the nation and No. 1 in Mississippi in average yards per punt on MaxPreps.com. Acton punted 49 times this past season for 2,394 yards, an average of 48.9 yards per punt.
“It’s still sinking in,” Nash Acton said. “When I found out, I couldn’t believe it. My dad and my coaches told me, and it was almost breathtaking because all the hard work I’ve done is starting to pay off.”
The accolades come as no surprise to his father, as Chad Acton has seen a work ethic in his son that rivals anyone’s.
“The kid’s a perfectionist,” Chad Acton said. “He wants to really work hard and get good. I’m trying to think of the right word (to describe him), but he’s never satisfied, even if he launches one 60-something yards in the air. He’s going to be mad because it didn’t roll after it hit the ground. He’s always trying to better himself.”
Nash Acton said he took up kicking around the age of 7 or 8 thanks in hopes of following in his father’s footsteps.
“I remember my dad telling me about how he kicked and punted at Alabama,” Nash Acton said. “I always looked up to him, so I thought it would be cool to do what he did. I started working on it in my backyard, and finally this year I started working with him every day, and it really helped with my kicking and punting.”
This season, Nash Acton finally made the move to attend the school where his father worked.
Said Nash Acton, “I wanted to go since the ninth grade, but it just never worked out, and finally this year I got to. It was really nice working with him, because he helped me so much.”
Getting coached by a parent isn’t always easy, but Nash Acton said he doesn’t mind how tough his father was on him at times.
“He doesn’t favor me just because I’m his kid,” Nash Acton said. “If anything, he works me harder than anyone else. He never lets me slack or have days off. He’ll work with me until I’m mentally and physically tired.”
The more he worked with his father, the more Nash Acton noticed himself getting better as a kicker.
“I noticed it right away,” Nash Acton said. “As soon as I started working with him over the summer, I had more hang time. My punts were longer, and my legs were stronger.”
The elder Acton said it was a great experience working with his son in an official capacity as a faculty member of the school.
“As a coach, it’s incredible,” Chad Acton said. “As a dad, though, it’s priceless getting to spend time with him. Him being at Lamar all those years, I didn’t get to work with him much, because I was at the high school, and that was one of the main reasons he wanted to come to the high school. It’s memories I wouldn’t trade for anything.”
The younger Acton also said he enjoyed working with his father more closely.
“It was very special,” Nash Acton said. “I’ve always wanted to. Not being able to work with him hurt because I knew he really wanted to work with me — and me him. This year, it was special to be by his side on the field, because he’s always been a big part of my life.”
When he wasn’t kicking, Nash Acton would also line up at receiver or occasionally take snaps at quarterback for the Wildcats, depending on the situation. While some kickers focus solely on kicking, Nash Acton said he wanted to help out in more than one way.
“I feel like I get more chances to do that if I’m playing different positions, and the coaches wanted me to play receiver as well,” Nash Acton said.
Wide receiver was a new position to him, but Nash Acton said it wasn’t too difficult an adjustment.
“It came to me pretty quickly,” Nash Acton said. “The coaches really helped me out with the switch and helped me adapt to playing at a bigger school. People told me I wouldn’t be able to, so I proved them wrong.”
He did that by spending a lot of time during the summer working on both his hands and his route-running.
“I always like to prove people wrong when I can,” Nash Acton said. “If people tell me I can’t do something, I want to show them that I’m not someone to expect little out of.”
While he’s currently playing soccer for Meridian and is undecided on baseball in the spring, Nash Acton is thinking about possibly kicking in college. His dream, he said, would be to follow in his father’s footsteps and kick for the Crimson Tide.
“I’ve always looked up to my dad, so it would be cool to have a second opportunity to be a kicker and punter in college, especially if I get the chance to be at Alabama,” Nash Acton said. “He had a national title, so it would be cool for me to do that as well.”