Santa Maria Sun / Athlete of the Week
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 25
Athlete of the Week: Jose Morales
BY JASON BANANIA
In the sport of football, the star of the game is usually the running back with the jukes, the wide receiver with the sticky hands, or more than likely it’s the quarterback, with the hand/eye coordination of a decorated sniper.
But even for a game called football, foot/eye coordination is usually underappreciated until it matters the most.
“The quarterback usually gets a lot of recognition and attention while kickers are usually thought of as a little scrawny guy,” said Jose Morales, who has kicked for the two time north division CIF champions, the Lompoc Braves, for the last three years, and who is listed as 6 feet tall and weighing 180 pounds.
Morales began his football career during the seventh grade in the Youth Football League. He said he signed up for football because he wanted to join his friends who were playing in the league. After a couple of practices, Morales found that he enjoyed the contact aspect of the sport and decided to stick with football instead of playing soccer that year.
Soccer was Morales’ first sport, since the age of 6, and the skills he developed with his legs would define his football career from the start. During the first week of practice his football coach asked the team if there were any soccer players on board. Morales was the only one to raise his hand.
“After they found out I was a soccer player they said that I would be the one who would kick for the team. It was cool with me; kicking always felt normal to me because I did so much of it during soccer and I always had a strong leg so it worked out,” he said.
The same thing would happen to Morales on the freshman squad at Lompoc High School.
“Most of the kids I played with during YFL were there at freshmen practice and when the coach asked if anyone wanted to try out for kicker all my teammates from back then all started pointing at me,” he said.
The following year, while Morales was a sophomore, the coaches pulled him up from JV to kick for the varsity team.
“That’s when I realized that I was going to be sticking to kicking from then on,” he said.
According to Morales, one of the most challenging aspects of being a kicker is the pressure that’s involved. Whether it’s a kick for the extra point after the touchdown or a game-winning field goal, every kick is make or break.
“A quarterback can make a mistake and fix it on the next play, but as a kicker when you miss, then that’s it, you miss. You’ll feel bummed and it will mess with your head for a while. So you have to be precise every time and kick every ball like it’s your last,” he said.
During the summer Morales went to a kicking camp at Fresno State University and the Billy Vinnedge Kicking Academy to improve his skill set. Aside from kicking technique, Morales said he’s also been working on his core muscles to be more explosive by doing planks and various workout routines that focus on abs.
When Morales isn’t training or playing football, you can catch him in his garage cutting some of his friends’ hair. Although cutting hair is something he said he enjoys, his aim is to find a career path while pursuing a college degree. Morales said he hopes that football can get him a higher education.
“I don’t really have a dream school. I’m just hoping to get into college and get a scholarship somewhere,” he said.
But right now Morales is focused on helping his team bring another CIF title to Lompoc and accomplishing a few goals that only a kicker can have.
“My main goals for this season are not to miss as many field goals and to keep kicking touchbacks,” Morales said.
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