The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

Snap judgement

Uncovering the role of the long snapper as an overlooked position in football
Junior and long snapper Zachary Mommer snaps the ball to the punter behind him. Photo courtesy of John Ling | Used with permission

Growing up a sports fan, junior and long snapper Zachary Mommer became immersed in football at a young age. With a background in flag football and baseball, Mommer wanted to use his experience to foster a similar positive dynamic on the MV football team. As the sole long snapper on Varsity for the past three years, Mommer says he has experienced disparities with his position and how it is perceived by others.

In the National Football League, there are three teams: offense, defense, and special teams. The offense includes the quarterback, running back, receivers, tight ends, and offensive line, while the defense consists of linebackers, linemen, and defensive backs. Special teams, which include punters, kickers, gunners, blockers, and snappers, play during fourth downs when attempting field goals or punts.

When the offense is unable to get a first down in the first three plays and a punt is required, the long snapper must snap the ball precisely 15 yards behind them for the punter to kick it as far as possible across the field, ensuring the opposing team starts their offensive play far from the endzone. Field goals occur during a similar scenario, however, they take place if the offense gets close enough to the end zone to kick the ball through the uprights, which is a field goal.

Head Football Coach Caezar Agront says that, like many students, Mommer did not join football with being the long snapper in mind. However, after watching Mommer practice snapping with his brother and former center MVHS alum ‘23 Xander Mommer, Agront discovered Mommer’s knack for this skill. While Mommer started out hoping to pursue other positions in football, he saw playing long snapper as an opportunity to fill a hole in the Varsity team.

“At first, I became a long snapper just to get play time because I wasn’t on the starting lineup at the beginning of the year, so I really had to find something that I could earn my spot on the field though,” Mommer said. “Being able to start as a long snapper helped me improve on myself and get more playtime in the end.”

Unlike offensive and defensive positions that have safeties and multiple linebackers to rely on, Mommer explains that as a long snapper, there is less room for error since the success of the special team depends on his snap. Agront quantifies this importance in Varsity Football’s first game of this season against Andrew Hill High School, where a bad snap changed the game dynamic.

“We were beating Andrew Hill, I believe 21-0, and the bad snap went over our punter’s head and we were backed up against our endzone,” Agront said. “It went out of bounds and they got points. They got the ball back in a turnover and they scored. All of a sudden, it’s 21-18. Mommer was upset with himself, but he took it very seriously and never had a bad snap for the rest of the season.”

Despite the position’s importance, Mommer believes the long snapper is often not given the same level of attention or appreciation comparedto other positions. He says that his position is overlooked because of the short time he plays on the field but is glad to contribute to the team as a whole.

“A long snapper is not seen as the greatest position out there, which makes sense because you don’t do that much work: you snap the ball and run,” Mommer said. “But I think it doesn’t matter that people don’t think of it as super important because it’s still a position and at the end of the day, you’re still playing football, so you get to be part of the play.”

Agront agrees with Mommer and explains that while it’s relatively easy to find players to fill in popular positions like the running back or receiver, it’s harder to convince someone to take up a position as niche as the long snapper. He maintains that without this position, it would be an obstacle for any team to be successful no matter how strong their offense and defense.

“Nine times out of 10, most people don’t know what special teams are,” Agront said. “People are like, ‘Well, why can’t they snap the ball correctly?’ Well, is the long snapper getting the right attention? Do you have a long snapper? If you count field goals and punts, that’s already half of the special teams. That’s when you break it down into numbers. That’s easily a third of your football team that you can’t be productive with. So you’re going into games with your arm tied behind your back.”

Senior and quarterback Rohit Pamidi attributes the lack of attention given to long snappers to an oversimplified assumption that the importance of each position directly relates to the amount of time they play in the game. However, he emphasizes that all positions determine the overall success of the team.

“In football, there is no position that’s more or less important,” Pamidi said. “For special teams, a long snapper is one of the most important and those types of positions are often looked down upon, but in reality, they’re crucial to every aspect of the game.”

Agront hopes to encourage other students to try out snapping since successful and consistent long snappers have an easier path to recruitment to National Collegiate Athletic Association Division One colleges due to the scarcity of people at the position. Although football season has concluded, Agront shares his appreciation for Mommer’s efforts in not only helping the special teams have a more pronounced role but also continuing to learn and fit into the long snapper position.

“Special teams was one of the shining aspects of our team this year,” Agront said. “We were really good on special teams for the better part of the whole season. It was good and it’s because of him who took it seriously. I’m grateful that Mommer decided to dive into playing long snapper because otherwise, we would have to find someone else and then it would be the cycle all over again of having that kid believe in the position.”

About the Contributors
Lauren Chuu, Managing Editor
Lauren Chuu is currently a senior and a managing editor for El Estoque. In her free time, she enjoys making digital art, playing trivia games and watching kdramas.
Arjun Dhruv, Sports Editor
Arjun is currently a junior and a sports editor for El Estoque. In his free time, he enjoys watching TV Shows and playing/watching sports with his friends.
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