CROWLEY – Hunter Stover, the kicker from Notre Dame whose been turning heads with his booming kickoffs and long field goals, isn’t the first member of his family to achieve success on the football field. Stover, who will be playing for the state 3A title tonight against the Lutcher Bulldogs, kicked a 58-yard field goal in the quarterfinal game against Richwood, which was only one yard off the Louisiana state record. His kickoffs, more often than not, result in touchbacks.
No one has been more proud of Hunter than his grandfather, Smokey Stover, who has a bit of football in his past as well. Having played for eight seasons at linebacker with the Kansas City Chiefs, he participated in the first ever Super Bowl against the Green Bay Packers. What is really interesting is that the Super Bowl wasn’t the only championship game he played in that year.
“Well that was the first Super Bowl, so to get there we had to win the AFL championship, which was its own championship back then,” said Stover. “I played one more season after that in the Canadian Football League with the Hamilton Tigercats and we won the Grey Cup. So I got to participate in three championship games in one year.”
However, what Mr. Stover was more interested in speaking about rather than his own illustrious past was the 3A championship game that Hunter will be participating in tonight. Hunter by the way, had to work pretty hard to gain the number 35, which was the same one Smokey used during his playing days.
“Oh we have the entire family going. In fact, we haven’t missed a game all year,” he beamed with pride. “We have a bunch of suites reserved for this Friday.”
When asked where Hunter had attained his kicking talents Stover replied “his father (Smokey Jr.) coached him in soccer from elementary school through high school and that’s where he got his strong leg.”
Mr. Stover’s pride in his grandson is obvious when looking at the many Notre Dame newspaper clippings on the wall of his office. Stover played with a fairly famous kicker himself while in Kansas City - Hall of Famer Jan Stenerud.
“Jan told me once that it was very similar to playing golf,” he smiled. “It’s all a matter of getting your leg swing down.”
Stover also couldn’t help but smile when he detailed the differences between the NFL of today as compared to when he played.
“Just about every player had a second job ... the money obviously isn’t what it is today,” he said. “In fact a ticket for Super Bowl I was only $12.50 - and people still complained about the price.”