September 19, 2012

Kickin' it ... like a golfer

More news about: Linfield
Josh Kay was perfect on four field goals and three PATs after a rough start to the season.
Photo by Dan Harris,

Josh Kay hadn't missed more than three kicks in a season.

Prior to Sunday's top 10 matchup, the Linfield senior was 0 for 3 in two games for the Wildcats.

"It really, really humbled me and brought me down," Kay said. "We had miscues as a unit, (but) I took full responsibility."

A disappointing start to the year turned out to have a much happier ending.

Kay connected on four field goals, including a game-winning 39-yarder with five seconds left to give the then-No. 5 Wildcats a 33-30 win over then No. 10 Cal Lutheran Saturday. It was his first career game winner.

The Wildcat kicking specialist's confidence never wavered even after two missed kicks, one to the right and one to the left, and a blocked try. He went back to a routine that he learned while taking up his other passion, golf. Kay pretty much grew up on a golf course as the Salem golf club has been part of his extended family since 1927.

"I realigned my thoughts, the way I approached my routine," Kay said. "I worked on getting in a meditated state, working on grinding out my routine with my eyes closed. To make a kick was in my control the way I approach it mentally. Firing all cylinders, I just realigned my thoughts. I just solidified that routine to my brain, going through the steps, going through the motions, just viewing it as another kick."

Although it was hardly a routine three points that was scored.

"I thought both teams played one heck of a game," Linfield coach Joe Smith said. "That was as crazy of game as I have been a part of, Back and forth all day, and full of what ifs. The 32 penalties, the intense heat, and two top-10 teams playing each other for the sixth time in three calendar years, made for an unusual game."

The other side of the kicking game was a major factor as well, as punter Josh Repp had a solid 42 yard average on five punts. Smith credits his coaching staff for that success.

"Coach Brandon Hazenberg has carried on a strong tradition set by coach Ron August that focuses on kicking and punting fundamentals," Smith said. "We pride ourselves in strong special team play and we believe it is a phase that can, and will, win close football games.

The Wildcats moved up to third in the latest poll and Kay earned NWC Student-Athlete of the week for his performance. Linfield is now 5-1 in the past six years over Cal Lutheran, including two straight playoff wins.

"This game was one of the most of the adverse, intense battles I have ever been in involved in," Kay said.

After the kick split the uprights he found Wildcat star and roommate/best friend Josh Hill, hugged him immensely, and even admitted that a few tears dribbled down his face in happiness.

"To share that moment with my brothers on the football team is something special," Kay said. "We did it as one unit. It was a whole lot more than just me."

 The Wildcats will have yet another hungry opponent waiting in the wings in conference foe Pacific Lutheran after a week off for both teams. PLU just knocked off Redlands 28-14 last week and had a close battle with Cal Lu the previous week.

 "Coming into the season, we were very concerned as a staff about the high caliber of teams we would play right out of the gate," Smith said. "We have not been at playoff form yet, but we are getting closer every week. Both PLU and ourselves have an extra week to prepare for each other, so I am certain both teams will be well prepared and focused on each other and it will make for a great game as it normally has been."

Behind the number


The number of conference championships legendary St. John's coach John Gagliardi has complied in his storied coaching career with the Johnnies. Gagliardi coached in his 600th game Saturday, a 43-21 loss to St. Thomas. The nation’s winningest coach is 486-134-11 overall in his 64 years of coaching and 462-128-10 in 60 years at St. Johns. The Johnnies also have four national titles in his reign, two from the NAIA and two from Division III.

Josh Smith photo

Josh Smith has covered Division III sports for more than five years. He writes for multiple publications, including beginning in 2012. He has won multiple awards for reporting and photography and lives in southern Wisconsin near UW-Whitewater, where he graduated with a degree in print journalism.

2011-12 columns: Jason Galleske
2010: Tim Walsh
2003-09: Adam Johnson
1999-2000: Don Stoner 

Previous Columns

November 19, 2015
Johnson's journey ends in playoffs
The last time Dubuque faced St. John's, Rio Johnson hadn't played a game of organized football since...
November 10, 2015
Making noise in the Northwest
Senior defensive end Alex Hoff has been a key contributor to Linfield’s stifling defense, and...
November 3, 2015
Following his calling
A scholarship to play football led Jordan Roberts to South Dakota. But a series of events, some...
October 28, 2015
Working hard
Travis Sparks-Jackson's work ethic has helped both the running back and the Leopards find success....
October 21, 2015
Super sophomore
Westminster (Mo.) has relied heavily on Latif Adams to carry the offense. And the sophomore running...
October 13, 2015
On his shoulders
Rick Willis says the key to the Wartburg football team’s continued success is consistent play....
October 6, 2015
Kasper is the Match for Oshkosh
On the gridiron, UW-Oshkosh quarterback Brett Kasper uses his arm to help his team vanquish...
September 29, 2015
Locey taking on new challenge
A few years ago, we labeled the Lewis & Clark head coaching position as the ultimate rebuilding...
September 23, 2015
Behind the Johnnie-Tommie rivalry
St. John's and St. Thomas can pack them in and the game, and rivalry, has gained a new level of...
September 15, 2015
All over the depth chart
Kickoff guy, kick returner, punter, slot back ... Max Gruber handles a little bit of everything for...
September 8, 2015
Martin Luther goes through quick change
Mere weeks before training camp opened, Martin Luther changed coaches, pulling its new coach out of...
September 1, 2015
10 games to watch for 2015
Big rivalries, conference showdowns and more dot the schedules of the westernmost Division III...
November 18, 2014
Sura, Johnnies glad to be back
Don’t be mistaken: Sam Sura and the St. John's football team are thrilled to still be playing....
November 11, 2014
The Sister on the sidelines
Whether it was watching the Saints practice next to the monastery, leading a team prayer or...
November 4, 2014
Willamette, Jones keeping up
Saturday’s win over Linfield has been the talk of Willamette University's campus because the...
 • More Division III football news releases

Other Columnists