Patrick Sandler remembers his reaction upon learning he would be attending his first football kicking camp.
It was anything but enthusiastic.
“I had just graduated eighth grade, and my dad had me going to a kicking camp because he thought I would be good at it,” said Sandler, a Roncalli High School senior who hadn’t played any form of organized football in more than three years.
“I didn’t want to go but ended up loving it.”
And now Rebels fans, coaches and players can’t help but love Sandler, a lifelong Greenwood resident who has helped the program to an 8-0 start.
Roncalli is ranked No. 1 in Class 4A entering tonight’s game at Guerin Catholic.
Sandler, a starter since his sophomore season, has split the uprights on 16 of 22 field-goal attempts in his career. He’s also 79 of 83 on extra-point kicks.
This season, Sandler is 4 of 5 on field-goal tries and 21 of 23 on PATs.
Having a dependable kicker accustomed to the pressures of playing for a program responsible for eight state championships is a nice luxury to have.
“When you have a good kicker, it enters your mind pretty quickly when your team has the ball,” Rebels coach Bruce Scifres said. “You kind of start calculating. And the farther he can kick, the sooner you start doing the math.
“As a sophomore, Patrick had a strong leg. He’s continued to work hard and get better every year. He gets really nice pop off the tee, and his distance and accuracy are really good.”
Sandler’s longest field goal of 46 yards came in last season’s Week 9 home game against East Central.
He’s not concerned about eclipsing that or any other individual or program kicking standard, as long as the Rebels keep winning.
“This season has been fun,” Sandler said. “I like seeing all my teammates do well. I see all of the work they put in. We’ve become brothers.”
Name: Patrick Sandler
Family: Parents, Steve and Pam; sisters, Lindsey, 24, and Katie, 22
Favorite TV show: “Sons of Anarchy”
Favorite food: Pizza
Favorite movie: “The Bourne Ultimatum”
Favorite athlete: Steve Nash
Favorite team: New England Patriots