WPIAL football position-by-position breakdown: Scouting the kickers
Wednesday, August 21, 2019 | 8:22 PM
Sharing your field with a good soccer team can sometimes be a boost for football programs across the WPIAL.
That’s because quite a few coaches have recruited soccer players as kickers.
The two-sport athletes might not always available for football practice — pulled elsewhere by soccer games and other responsibilities — but coaches accept that the reward is well worth the effort.
Consider, Central Catholic’s Johnathan Opalko is a two-time all-section soccer player who plays defense for the Vikings. He’s also clutch as a field goal kicker Friday nights.
Franklin Regional’s Anthony DiFalco scored the only goal in last year’s WPIAL Class 3A soccer championship for a 1-0 victory over West Allegheny. He also kicked four field goals.
The top kicker on this list, Belle Vernon’s Cameron Guess, also played two fall sports until last summer. Guess was the Leopards’ goalkeeper before deciding to focus exclusively on football.
Guess lists offers from three Division I football teams.
1. Cameron Guess
Senior, 6-0, 190
Guess is accurate on extra points and field goals, but his leg strength on punts and kickoffs gives Belle Vernon a strategic edge. He sent 45 of his 72 kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks last season and averaged 35.3 yards per punt. He made 56 of 57 extra points and earned all-conference honors in Class 4A. Kohl’s Kicking Camps ranked him as the nation’s ninth-best punter and the 51st-best kicker in the 2020 class. He lists offers from West Virginia, Kent State and Toledo.
2. Johnathan Opalko
Senior, 5-11, 155
Opalko had a perfect junior season, making 34 extra-point attempts and five field goals to earn all-conference honors in Class 6A. He converted field goal attempts from 25, 29, 31, 32 and 35 yards. The multi-sport standout also earned all-section soccer honors as a defenseman for the second year in a row.
3. Casey Sorsdal
Junior, 6-1, 180
Sorsdal led the WPIAL with 10 field goals last season on 13 attempts. He had a 10-point day in Week 8 (two field goals, four extra points) that made the difference in a 34-28 victory over Norwin. He converted field goals from 22, 22, 25, 30, 31, 33, 33, 37, 37 and 39 yards. He was voted second-team all-conference in Class 6A.
4. Seth Phillis
Senior, 5-11, 190
Phillis made seven field goals last season, earned touchbacks on 33 of his 54 kickoffs and placed eight punts inside the 20. He made field goal attempts from 19, 20, 24, 26, 28, 29 and 36 yards, earning him all-conference honors in Class 2A. Phillis also had a 62-yard touchdown run and had a 40-yard interception for a touchdown.
5. Jayson Jenkins
Junior, 5-7, 145
Jenkins leads all returning kickers with 70 points last season, including 64 extra points for the high-scoring Gators. His longest field goal was a 37-yarder, but his most memorable came a year earlier as a freshman. Jenkins kicked a winning 23-yarder in the state semifinals in 2017.
ONE TO WATCH
Sophomore, 5-9, 155
DiFalco made 4 of 5 field goal attempts and converted 40 of 42 extra points last season as a freshman. He earned second-team all-conference honors in Class 5A. He made field goals from 20, 27, 28 and 33 yards. In a high-scoring matchup with Bethel Park, he went 8 for 8 on extra points.
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
More High School Football• Which WPIAL football team will reach a milestone next?
• Trib HSSN state football rankings for Sept. 22, 2020
• Gov. Wolf: Gathering limits for school sports voluntary ‘at least for the moment’
• Trib HSSN Team of the Week for Week 2
• Kiski Area opens season with wild comeback win over Connellsville