the study of the kicking components within sports

Thursday, March 3, 2011

AFL Kickers - National, West

Our preview of this year's Arena Football League kickers shifts to the National Conference, where we'll start with the West Division. 

We previously looked at the American Conference's East Division and South Division.

Arizona Rattlers, Joe Schroeder
  • Schroeder previously was the kicker for Sacred Heart University. He was selected as a member of the All Northeast Conference Team in 2008.
  • Named NEC Special Teams Player of the Week for the week of 10/13/2008: "Schroeder connected on two field goal attempts (45, 42) and was perfect on five PAT opportunities in helping the Pioneers past Saint Francis (PA) on Saturday. A week after nailing the game-winning field goal to sink Wagner, the junior placekicker opened Saturday’s affair by drilling a career long 45-yard field goal that staked Sacred Heart out to a 3-0 lead. Equally as important in helping Sacred Heart remain undefeated, Schroeder boomed two of his eight kickoffs for touchbacks while averaging 66.1 yards per kick during the Pioneers’ sixth straight victory."
  • Jackson Memorial High School, Class of 2005
  • "Probably the most frequently asked question I get is 'how do you feel about kicking on 9 ft uprights?' I just say if I trust my technique and stay true to my form and let my body do the work, the ball will go where I want it to. Never having played or seen an arena game, I'd have to say the biggest difference for me going from the outdoor game to the AFL would have to be the speed of the game. In outdoor football you're guaranteed one kickoff so I could potentially only kick once a game, but in arena you're always kicking because you're always scoring which is what I like the most about playing arena. You always have to be ready for anything which makes the game fun and interesting."
San Jose SaberCats, Juan Gamboa
  • In four seasons at Sacramento State, Gamboa (5-8, 195) served as the team’s place kicker his entire career with the Hornets. During his collegiate career, Gamboa connected on 36 field goals on 56 attempts (64.3%), while accounting for over 200 points. As a senior he averaged 59.0 yards per kickoff, notching 12 touchbacks.
  • A graduate of Bellarmine Prep in San Jose, he ranked as the second-best kicker in the country by SuperPrep and the sixth-best by Gamboa made all 30 of his extra points as a senior and also connected on a career-long 55-yard field goal. He earned all-league and all-state honors as a junior and senior and was also named All-America after each season. 
  • Gamboa learned the key aspects of kicking success back in his Bellarmine days, "The secret is consistency. You can't be really good one game and then hit the skids the next game. You have to keep it on an even plane and have a really short memory. You have to focus on your technique.""
Spokane Shock, Taylor Rowan
  • Prior to joining the Shock last year, stops on Rowan's kicking career included Melbourne High (Florida), Western Illinois University from 2005 to 2008, and the Arkansas Twisters of the AF2 and the New York Sentinels of the UFL in 2009.
  • He set a new record for most consecutive PATs made while kicking at Western Illinois with 129. He was named to Phil Steele’s Preseason All-America second team prior to his senior year, and was named Western Illinois’ Special Teams Player of the Year as a junior and a senior.
  • During our interview with Taylor last year, he discussed playing in the big game for the champion Shock, “The ArenaBowl experience was one of a kind! Playing for Spokane Shock is the best experience I think you can have in playing arena football, with how many championships they have here. ArenaBowl was pretty cool. We had three or four games on NFL Network leading up the ArenaBowl… having Kurt Warner on the field and all these well known NFL guys on NFL Network just walking around. Playing for Spokane, every game is pretty much sold out, so just the noise level. Then playing Tampa Bay, which is one of the most well known franchises in the history of arena football, playing them and their coaches - just a different level, their team being a more experienced, older team and our team being a new team with a lot of younger players. It was pretty cool… being on national television in a sold out arena was definitely the loudest experience I’ve ever played in, and that’s including playing SEC opponents in college.”
Utah Blaze, Carlos Ojeda
  • Ojeda kicked for the Fairbanks Grizzlies (IFL) in 2009 & 2010. He was a part of the Albany Conquest of the af2 in 2008 and also spent time with the Daytona Beach Thunder (WIFL), Alaska Wild (IFL), and Ohio Valley Greyhounds (UIF).
  • College: University of Central Florida
  • Ojeda is a frequent contributor to our Kickology Question of the Month, including our in-depth look at the sweet spot: "When you hit 'the sweet spot' on a football, whether it's a field goal, kickoff or punt, you know instantaneously upon contact that that ball is going exactly where you want envision it, at the height & distance you want it to travel, and with the 'perfect rotation'."
  • His kicking goals for 2011:  "The same resolution I had last year, and the year before, and the year before that, all the way back to my first season in high school... to split the uprights on every kick. Be it practice, warmups, preseason game, home game, away, playoffs, championship game, blowouts, close games, tryouts, goofing off, whatever... even in my head -- Every time I line up to attempt a field goal or extra point in 2011, I expect it to go in."

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