Thursday, March 26, 2009

Special Mention

Joe Stormont gets ready to boot (Credit: Columbia Athletics)

In the past, the spring game has excluded a lot of special teams plays like kickoffs and punts.

But the Columbia coaches may want to make an exception this year because the man who has shouldered the kicking load for the past four seasons, Jon Rocholl, is graduating. His replacement candidates will need a lot of practice to fill his kicking shoes.

Rocholl was not perfect over the last four years, but his talent was very evident. He also ended his career on a very high note, nailing a key 47-yard FG in a tricky wind in his last home game in the win over Cornell. His punts were almost always excellent.

There are only two returning kickers on the Columbia roster with the tall order of having to replace Rocholl, and they're both rising juniors. Joe Stormont's claim to fame so far is a booming 47-yard game winning overtime field goal in a JV win last season against Bridgton Academy.

William Mazur walked onto to the team a year ago, and is listed as a kicker/punter.

Columbia's return game improved by leaps and bounds in 2008 when the coaches just let Austin Knowlin take all the punts and kickoffs. The highlights came in consecutive weeks against Harvard and Cornell where Knowlin scored TD's on punt returns of about 75 yards each. Mike Stephens had a few strong punt returns in 2008, including a big one against Lafayette.

When it came to coverage, the Lions did a better job as well in 2008. Rising sophomore AJ Maddox was a speed demon and rising junior Augie Williams always seemed to be in the right place at the right time.

But again, the big question about special teams and the spring game is whether the coaches will opt for a regular game format with standard punts and kickoffs. In other words, fans hoping to get a real look at the returning special teamers may just have to wait another six months.


At Thu Mar 26, 04:51:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger dabull said...

Jake, finally purchased and just watched the Ivy football movie "Eight". The intensity and pure raw emotion and bitter dissappointment of Matt Sodl during the Lions losing streak was so gut-wrenching to watch. If they had a whole roster of kids like Matt, they would have gone undefeated just by pure determination. Anyway, I think everyone should get a chance to see that.

At Thu Mar 26, 05:48:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

CU needs to get Knowlin the ball as much as possible this year. He should handle all punt and kickoff returns, no question. They need to let him run the ball about 5 times per game just to make the defense game plan for it. If he gets any kind of blocking he is gone.


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