Skip to main content

ESPN caught up with Kevin Kelley, the HS coach who never punts, to see how his latest idea has worked out


Earlier this year, Pulaski Academy (AR) traveled down to Texas to take on Highland Park high school - a team that held quite possibly the most impressive home win streak in high school football. You see, the last time that Highland Park lost a game in their home stadium, it was 1999.

ESPN was there to profile Kelley and his nontraditional approach, and the big game.

The difference between the teams that Highland Park had beaten at home for years and years and Kevin Kelley's team are plentiful. First off, Pulaksi Academy onside kicks the ball every time, they never send a guy back to return a punt, they always go for two, and they never - under any circumstance - punt. Like, ever.

That last nugget has garnered Kelly a ton of attention from not only the media, but also NFL, FBS, and high school coaches wanting to pick his brain. He's got all the numbers and research to back it up. Heading into this year, he found another wrinkle he deemed worth incorporating.

This year, after doing a load of research, Kelley found that plays where at least three players touch the ball (QB and RB or WR), the chance for an explosive play of 20 yards or more actually doubles. His research also revealed that if you can account for more explosive plays of 20 yards or more than your opponent, you win 81% of the time.

With that in mind, it made sense for Kelley to start integrating laterals more into his offense.

ESPN's FiveThirtyEightSports ran a feature on Kelley and his team's trip to Highland Park recently, and what they captured was a great profile of the most forward-thinking coach in America.

Take a look to see if Kelley's squad could end the historic win streak, and perhaps more importantly, how his latest innovation has panned out.