For the last two weeks, Charlie Shulkin’s right foot has been the difference-maker on the scoreboard for the Bothell High football team.
The sophomore Cougar nailed a career-long 40-yard field goal with 1:51 remaining in the game to beat Graham-Kapowsin, 30-27, in the 4A state quarterfinals and he hit a 28-yarder to knock off Kentwood, 17-14, in the state first round.
“It’s not just me, it has everything to do with the holder, the snapper and then the kick — it’s a whole team thing. We do the best we can to make it happen,” said Shulkin, giving a nod to snapper Blake Bickhaus and holder Andrew Sirmon.
Shulkin said that he experienced a mixture of nervousness and excitement when called upon to enter the game against Graham-Kapowsin and line up the 40-yarder. At first, he couldn’t feel a thing, but then confidence took over. Keep your head down, follow through and kick the ball into the uprights, he added.
Normally, Bothell’s coaches keep Shulkin within the 35-yard range unless the kick could be a game-winner.
“I think after that kick, he’s gonna get a bit more confidence in me, so I might get some further ones,” Shulkin said with a smile.
What happens in the near future — as in this Saturday — remains unknown as to where Shulkin might line up a kick against Woodinville in the 4A state semifinals. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. at Pop Keeney Stadium. The fifth-seeded Cougars (10-2) beat the eighth-seeded Falcons (11-1) earlier in the season in a 33-29 thriller on Oct. 11.
Shulkin, 16, kicked for the first time with the Bothell C team in 2018 and last played football at age 10. He played a year up that season, admittedly getting crushed and then sweeping the sport aside to concentrate on soccer, which he’s played since the age of 2.
Always a football fan, he’s glad to be back and donning pads and a helmet while booting kickoffs, field goals and PATs. This season, he’s 13-for-13 on the field-goal front and has missed just two PATs. Bothell has outscored its opponents 404-231 this season.
“I have a lot of friends that play football, so I was talking to a couple of the coaches, and they were like, ‘We need to get you out and see how that leg is,’” Shulkin said of his return to the sport.
He gets a thrill out of being put in a spot to be the hero. On the Bothell football Twitter page, a hashtag reads #theincredibleshulk.
Shulkin has looked to star players like Bothell High graduate Johnny Hekker, who punts for the Los Angeles Rams, and former Seattle Sounder Fredy Montero for inspiration over the years.
The Reporter asked Shulkin a few questions to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into his life:
What’s your favorite movie of all time?
“Shrek” for sure.
What kind of music do you listen to?
It varies. I listen to country and rap.
What’s your favorite restaurant in the Bothell area?
Bento Teriyaki, it’s nice.
What’s a special skill that you’d like to learn?
Just kick further, get my leg stronger, get more advice to get it stronger.
What super power would you like to have?
I’d like to be able to read other people’s minds or freeze time.
If you could go to dinner with one person, who would that be?
Johnny Hekker, ‘cause I’d just like to get to know what he was like here and how going off to college and then the NFL worked.