Playing just for kicks

Kicking footballs straight and far came naturally for Matt Abramo, who picked up the sport after persistent knee pain forced him to the sidelines in soccer.

The thrill of catching passes drew Jedi Tavares to football, and years of playing youth soccer transferred well to the kicking game.

The North Bay League rivals — Abramo at Casa Grande and Tavares at Windsor — lead a small but skilled set of true kickers in the Empire this season. They can help win football games with consistent points after touchdowns and the occasional field goal.

Others teams turn to soccer standouts, developing enough confidence and coolness in players to score points for their squads.

"I was so used to kicking a soccer ball that kicking a football was easy. I've just tried to get better working on form and technique," said Abramo, who began kicking in middle school youth football and now leads Empire prep kickers in scoring. "It felt good from the start. I liked scoring points for the team."

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