It’s time to give some love out there for the guys who knock down the extra points after touchdowns and those three points when you need them: The place kickers.
Yes, these players are critical to your team’s success when you’re deciding what to do after scoring touchdowns or if your team is down a point or two in crunch time and you need a game winner through the uprights. They may not get all the fanfare, but all the pressure is thrown their way when you need them.
We decided to put together a list of the top 13 place kickers based on statistics from the regular season and playoffs to pose the question of who is the tops in Florida. We compiled a list and ask you the fan to vote in our poll or chime in if you feel someone is left out.
Nicholas Romero, St. Thomas Aquinas: Aquinas didn’t have to go for a lot of actual field goal attempts as the Raiders were too busy scoring scoring touchdowns on season long. Romero connected on a perfect 64-of-64 on PATs and 6-of-9 on field goals.
Andrew Abu-Akel, Chaminade-Madonna: Abu-Akel was another South Florida kicker that has the leg to knock ‘em through the uprights if needed, but extra points were when he was called upon the most. The Lions’ kicker was a perfect 76-of-76 on extra points and also added 48 touchbacks on 87 kickoffs.
Eddie De LaCruz, Williston: The Red Devils’ kicker was one of the top leaders in knocking down extra points. De LaCruz went a perfect 66-of-66 on extra point attempts and on 57 kickoffs had 14 touchbacks.
Robert Hammond III, Cardinal Gibbons: When it comes to top kickers in multiple categories, Hammond III checks off plenty of boxes. 77 kickoffs, 50 touchbacks, perfect 57-of-57 on extra points and 12-of-17 on field goal attempts. He’s been pretty good.
Harvey Sarajian, Naples: Sarajian had a stellar senior season kicking for the Golden Eagles, going a perfect 55-of-55 on extra points, 5-of-8 on field goals (52 yarder made) and 45 touchbacks on kickoffs.
Wylie Shaw, Plantation American Heritage: Only one missed extra point on the entire season, going 72-of-73 and then knocking in 3-of-4 field goal attempts. Shaw also was solid on kickoffs, with 33 touchbacks on 81 kicks.
Ronald Daragjati, Creekside: When it comes down to knocking down field goals and point afters, Daragjati has been money. 16-of-20 on field goal attempts with a long of 53 and was 51-of-51 on PATs.
Collin Young, Steinbrenner: Young was called upon quite a bit on field goal attempts for the Warriors, connecting on 7-of-13 kicks with a long of 48 yards. The senior was perfect on extra point makes with 46 made.
Brandon Gonzalez, Palmetto: So going for extra points wasn’t something that Palmetto did a whole ton of, with Gonzalez making 25-of-26 but he did make some field goals. Gonzalez went 10-of-12 on field goals with a long of 41.
Matthew Berry, Bolles: We’ve stayed away from mentioning punting stats, but Berry had an average of 35.0 yards and 16 inside of the 20-yard line. The Bulldogs’ kicker made 49-of-50 on extra points and was good on 9-of-14 on field goal tries.
Jack Ferreri, Jesuit: Ferreri was superb once again for the state semifinalist Tigers as he made 45-of-48 on extra points. The senior also connected on 8-of-10 on field goal attempts with a long of 47 yards.
Deaglan Camron, Bishop Verot: A 4-year starter on the varsity, Camron got better as he went on with Bishop Verot. As a senior, Camron connected on all 51 of his extra point attempts, 7-of-9 on field goals and had 54 touchbacks.
Joel McGrath, Victory Christian: The Victory Christian senior kicker is the best kicker out of Polk County and makes the argument he could be tops in the state. McGrath knocked down 10-of-15 of field goals with a long of 49 and connected on 24-of-29 extra point attempts.
Andy Villamarzo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Andy_Villamarzo.