Camas football knows where to get its kicks

Papermakers can consider Alcobendas a super specialist

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

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CAMAS — The Camas kicking unit was on the field, toward the end of a football practice in August.

The gist: For every missed field goal, the rest of the team would have to run.

No problem. The Camas Papermakers have senior Roldan Alcobendas as a their kicker. Mr. Automatic.

Camas coach Jon Eagle had another challenge. He had the team's tower — used to film practices — moved right behind the goal posts. Instead of the 23-foot wide area between the goal posts, Eagle informed Alcobendas that in order for it to count, he had to hit the tower or go over the tower, narrowing the target by at least half.

No problem.

"He just kept moving me back, back, back, and back, and he said you have to make the tower," Alcobendas recalled. "Bring it."

For the final kick of the drill, the holder set up at the 48-yard line. Add the 10 yards for the end zone, and Alcobendas had a 58-yarder on his foot. He was true. Over the crossbar, right down the middle, nailing the center of the tower.

So it should have come as no surprise when Alcobendas made a 52-yard field goal in a game earlier this season — his career long.

"Once my foot made contact with the ball, I had a really good feeling," he said of that kick.

His strong leg means Camas is in scoring position further away than most opponents. His accuracy means the Papermakers can just about count every point-after-touchdown. He has only missed one this season.

His skills also carry over to the kickoff game. Most of his kicks go into the end zone, for an automatic touchback. Last week, while nursing a groin injury, Alcobendas did not get the ball to the end zone, but instead placed the kickoffs wherever his coach asked him.

It has been rare this season for Camas to punt, but when it happens, yes, it's Alcobendas. Call him the Super Specialist.

A talented kicking game is a luxury in high school football. Eagle appreciates what he has.

"It's what you have to deal with when you don't have a guy like that," Eagle said. "We've been fortunate to have a guy like that. It just makes you that much better."

So far, the Papermakers have not needed to rely on an Alcobendas kick to win a game. The team has won its 11 games by the average score of 49-15. The closest game was a 22-point decision.

"I like winning by a lot of points. It relieves some pressure. But when the time comes, I'll be ready," Alcobendas said. "I feel like that moment will be coming in the next three weeks."

Camas hosts Federal Way in a Class 4A state quarterfinal game at 5 p.m. Saturday at Doc Harris Stadium. If all goes well for the Papermakers, they will advance to the semifinals.

The Camas coaches describe Federal Way as the best team they have seen this year. The Associated Press has Federal Way at No. 2 in the state, Camas at No. 3. It is possible this will be the close one that Camas has not yet played. A perfect kick-off, a change-of-field-position-punt, or a clutch field goal just might make the difference.

Alcobendas said he is ready if needed. Just as importantly, he said, so are those who are out there with him. His linemen protect him. Dylan White is the long snapper on punts. Troy Patterson is the snapper for field goals. Zach Eagle is sure handed as the holder. All of them have to be on their games.

"You need it all," Alcobendas said. "If one thing is missing, something is going to go wrong with the kick."

Not a lot has gone wrong with the kicking game in the last few years. Alcobendas became the kicker during his sophomore season, and the Papermakers haven't had to worry about the position since.

Alcobendas, also a soccer player, said he prefers football.

"I like the atmosphere. At football games, you have thousands of people cheering you on. I like the relationships you build with your teammates every single day."

At the end of each day, Alcobendas is still a kicker. Which means he gets a little grief now and then from his teammates.

"There are a couple of jokes around here," he said. "But when it comes to game time, they depend on me, and I'll be there for them."