Place kickers rock and they aren’t done yet

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Rodney Harwood

It’s been going on eight weeks now when I stepped into the box, pointed to the centerfield fence, then proceeded to hit one out the yard.

I don’t even have to be grammatically correct here. Besides, “Out the Yard,” sounds better all slanged up anyway.

Yep, sat in this very chair, scribbled out some stuff, and slapped a headline on it that read: “Look for area placekickers to make a difference this football season.”

Boom shakalaka, Ol’ Gringo goes yard, and the crowd goes nuts, yaaaaaaayaaaaaaaaa.

OK fine, everybody saw this one coming, but give it up for Othello senior Bernie Garza Jr., Royal junior Osvaldo Guerrero and Wahluke junior Alex Valdez.

Let’s start this kickers kudos off with Guerrero, who does the place kicking for the three-time 1A state champion Royal Knights. Considering six of the eight opponents faced so far haven’t scored against a Knights defense that allows just three points a game, Guerrero’s 62 points on the PAT are pretty incredible. On Friday Knight, he also had field goals from 26 and 30-yards out.

Now I have to use all my fingers and toes on this one, but the Royal place kicker has scored more points than their entire opponents-faced combined. Think about it, anybody can throw five touchdown passes in a game, that’s just Sawyer Jenks playing catch with Angel Farias on the Go Route all night long. But Guerrero, a 5-foot-9, 150-pound junior had nine extra points and two field goals for 15 of the Knights 69 total points, and River View had nada.

I don’t know about the rest of y’all, but I want to see Guerrero attempt a 50-yarder. I think he can make it, but I need the Royal faithful to make it happen. Next time the Knights have fourth-and-five on the 40, I want everybody in the stands to stand up and shout, “Gur-rare-o, Gur-rare-o, Gur-rare-o.” Maybe we can get the old gray fox Wiley Allred to send our guy out there. Lets see, 40 plus the end zone, plus the set-up equals 57 yards. Yep, I think Gur-rare-o can bang it through.

Over in Othello, Bernie Garza Jr. is the reason why the Huskies are looking at the postseason. The Othello senior stood facing the wind and knocked through a 27-yarder as time ran out to help the Huskies beat the Bulldogs in Ellensburg. It was a must-win. Defense did its job and allowed just one score. Offense scored a touchdown to even things up. Garza was in on a couple of special teams plays that came up big. He took the snap on the punt, rolled to his right a bit and boomed a 45-yard punt, which the Ellensburg return man muffed and the Huskies gunner recovered to set up the game-winning field goal. Garza knocked it down with no time remaining. He also had the game-winning field goal in the season opener at Connell.

Out in Mattawa, Valdez has been a consistent force on the point-after front for the Warriors this season. With a boomer leg capable of putting a 60-yarder through in practice, he is the reason behind the Wahluke wins. Valdez kicked the game-winner at Granger and another field goal against Connell.

Kickers rock, and they aren’t done yet.

Rodney Harwood is a sports writer for the Columbia Basin Herald and writes a weekly column for the Sun Tribune. He can be reached at rharwood@columbiabasinherald.com

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