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Greenfield's Leg Lifts Glendale : Freshman Impresses Vaquero Coaches With His Punts and Poise

October 22, 1987|HEATHER HAFNER

Glendale College's Brian Greenfield entered last Saturday's game as the top-rated junior college punter in the state. The freshman was averaging 44.1 yards a punt.

But after boots of 35, 10, 42 and 26 yards against Ventura, he left with a 40.4 average and a No. 10 ranking.

"Our kicking game was atrocious today," Coach Jim Sartoris said.

But for a punter of Greenfield's caliber, one poor outing can easily be overlooked. Especially since Glendale won, 28-15. And especially because Glendale's regular long-snapper has an injured finger.

"His performance has been a very big factor for us and it will continue to be if he gets his confidence back," Sartoris said.

"He's got the best leg I've ever seen."

Greenfield, 18, averaged 42.2 yards a punt at Notre Dame High of Sherman Oaks and was a second-team All-Del Rey League tight end last season.

The 5-11, 200-pound kicker has been training with the Glendale coaches since the start of summer. Together, they worked on everything from footwork to the way he drops the ball.

"I think the Glendale coaches are a big part of why I'm doing so well," Greenfield said. "My high school coaches were good, but they were very limited in their knowledge of punting."

Greenfield is being trained by assistant coach John Cicuto, who was the national high school punting champion in 1962 for Notre Dame. Cicuto said punting is as much mental as it is mechanical.

"He's got the leg to play Division I for any team in the nation," Cicuto said. "But because of the way we started off, he's put a lot of pressure on himself. Sometimes he feels like he has to make the big play all by himself."

Greenfield's experience at tight end has made him a better punter, Cicuto said.

"He's not afraid of the rush," Cicuto said. "He's been in the trenches before. Sometimes that's a problem with a kid who has been a pure kicker."

Greenfield expected the Glendale coaches to work closely with him, which is one of the reasons he chose to attend the Western State Conference school. But he didn't expect the Vaqueros' season to be so much like his last in high school.

"I heard all the great things about Glendale," said Greenfield, referring to the Vaqueros past two 10-win seasons. "I've had some flashbacks. It's been kind of frustrating because my last season at Notre Dame we were 2-8."

But Glendale, which has won its past two games after dropping its first four, appears to be on the rise again. And with it, Greenfield's punting.

Both Greenfield and Sartoris are ready to forget the freshman's single sub-par performance.

"That game was part of growing up and learning how to handle a little adversity," Sartoris said. "We still have tremendous confidence in him. Our kicking game has kept us in a lot of games and he has been a big part of it."

Greenfield would like to average 45 yards a punt. The school record is 40.6, set by Glenn Pena in 1984.

Sartoris doesn't think the goal is out of reach.

"He's got the ability to do it," he said. "He has the physical ability to be a tremendous professional player someday."

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