SIOUX CITY – Greg Conry is enjoying a breakout season as the place kicker for the Sioux City Bandits.
To do that he needed to do something that doesn’t come natural to kickers – stop kicking.
Not entirely, but the former Harlan High School prep learned the hard way during his first season with the Bandits that sometimes less is more.
“I was battling an injury for the first good half of the season last year, a quad injury, so I didn’t start out the season as good as I wanted to,” said Conry, who finished the year making 20 of 33 attempts. “I was a little overexcited about kicking indoors and I ended up getting hurt from kicking.
“This year I have been planning it with (head coach) Erv (Strohbeen) a little bit saying I don’t want to kick too much because I don’t want that repeat, and I think that has been helping me stay healthy.”
The game plan has allowed Conry to enjoy a strong start to the season having connected on 15 of 20 field goal attempts with a long of 54 yards against the Omaha Beef.
The Bandits, who are off to a 4-1 start, have had a run of solid kickers in recent years and Conry continued that tradition when he joined the team in 2017.
“I was coaching in Hinton and I just decided I still loved to kick and I was training some of the special team’s unit. I decided to look up the Bandits,” he said. “People were telling me I needed to go try out and I finally gave in.”
Conry describes himself as the backup’s backup at wide receiver in high school who took to kicking and found enough success to make it to the college level at Peru State near Omaha. Conry, who teaches in the Kingsley-Pierson school district, concluded his college career by helping his team knock off Benedictine (Kan.) with a 45-yard game-winning field goal.
Then came the indoor game with the Bandits and a few adjustments with the narrower uprights.
“In college and high school and I presume in the NFL, you can kind of hit a ball and don’t hit it quite as right as you want and still kind of get away with it,” he said. “In arena you really have to fine-tune and find the kick that works for you.”
Conry is not as concerned with a miss or make on a kick, but rather did he have the right hit on the ball. He is chasing the “perfect hit” which he said he has had a couple times, but not on his 54-yard effort that made it through against the Beef.
“That was not a perfect hit and I just hit it and said, ‘Oh, I better hope that gets there,’” he said. “Stepping back and looking right behind you and there is an end zone there messes with your mind a little bit. It makes you freak out a little bit, but at the same time it is just another kick I guess.”
Conry has made enough of those kicks to earn the Champions Indoor Football Special Teams Player of the Week award three times already this season. He credits his snapper and holder for making his job that much easier.
“C.J. Jones is my snapper and Andre London is my holder, and it is kind of crazy because those are both new guys to the Bandits and we started to mold pretty quick,” Conry said. “C.J. Jones is a great guy with a good ability for snapping. He is not exactly your lineman type but he has a good snap, and London, I don’t ever worry about him.”
Conry, 24, has also shown his leg strength on kickoffs even if it has led to some tense moments for his coaches.
“I have to tell him ‘listen keep you nose out of there,’” Strohbeen said. “I feel like out kickoff team hasn’t been playing real well so we have had a few guys break through the line and Greg is not afraid to stick his nose in there and make those plays. I told the guys that I think Greg had more special teams tackles than anyone on this team last week and that is a problem.”
Strohbeen said one of the biggest things he likes about Conry is his engaged nature around the team.
“He is one of the guys, the guys love him and they appreciate everything he does,” Strohbeen said. “He has been winning ball games for us. It is a breath of fresh air that you can talk to and get behind.”
“He is a competitor and that is the great thing about Greg. He wants to win, he wants to be the best kicker in the league, he wants all that stuff."