It wasn't planned, but St. Michael-Albertville forward Justin McLain is developing a reputation as slow starter who heats up as the soccer season progresses.
McLain scored eight goals last week, giving him 20 on the season, all the more impressive considering he missed the first two games of the season while recovering from a stress fracture in his left foot.
He got off to a slow start in 2011, too, before finishing with 23 goals.
"I think I get better as the season goes on," McLain said. "Once you start playing better, you give that little extra effort to see how far you can go."
In 2011, the Knights got as far as the Class 2A, Section 8 championship game before falling to Anoka.
McLain is convinced that the Knights (10-3-3) can take that extra step this season.
"I think we can make it to state," he said. "If we play our best, we can beat anyone."
Staff writer Jim Paulsen talked with McLain about his three fall passions: soccer, kicking for the football team and bow hunting.
Q So, how's the foot?
A I hurt it in summer soccer. I was out for about five weeks, but I'm 100 percent right now.
Q How long have you played soccer?
A Since I was about 3 or 4 years old. I remember being out there on the field, running around, not knowing where to go.
Q So I assume you've seen soccer really grow at St. Michael-Albertville?
A Yes. It's been a lot of fun being a part of teams that just keep getting better and better.
Q You've scored 64 goals in your career. What is your secret?
A I just have a quick touch. I can cut and get around other players and I have a good shot.
Q As a senior, what responsibilities have you taken on this year?
A With so many young players, I feel like I have to score the majority of the goals.
Q You also kick for the football team. Talk about that.
A It's really fun to be out there on the field with those guys and be a part of another good team.
Q What is your longest field goal?
A My farthest in a game is somewhere around 35 yards. In practice, I've kicked it 55 yards.
Q Ever have to make a tackle on kickoffs?
A I try to get the ball into the end zone so I don't have to. I think I've got something like three tackles in my career.
Q I hear you're a hunter. What do you hunt?
A Deer. Mostly bow hunting.
Q Have you been out yet this year?
A Not yet. I haven't had the chance. I'm looking forward to it.
Q How much different is bow hunting than hunting with a shotgun or a rifle?
A Bow hunting is a little harder. Your heart starts pumping quite a bit, but you have to make sure it's close enough and you're right on because you only get one shot.
Q What's the biggest deer you've ever shot?
A I got an eight-point buck last year.
Q Did you mount the head?
A No. I do have the rack, though.