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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

More Legroom

Geisler kicked 47-yard field goal for Camarillo last season and is primed to go over 50.

September 06, 1998|ERIC SONDHEIMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

CAMARILLO — Something touched Carl Thompson's shoulder, momentarily distracting him. Then it happened again.

Was it a moth? A mosquito? A burst of wind?

"I look around, 'Oh, it's Geisler,' " said Thompson, Camarillo High football coach.

Jason Geisler, Camarillo's kicker, was tugging at Thompson's shoulder, pleading for the chance to try a 47-yard field goal against Royal last season.

Understand, there aren't many Camarillo players with the audacity to sneak up behind their veteran coach and gently tug his shoulder to gain his attention.

"He didn't think I could do it, so I had to ask him," Geisler said.

Sure enough, Geisler made the 47-yard field goal, leaving Thompson to wonder if the next tugging-on-the-shoulder experience might come at 55 yards.

"He speaks his mind," Thompson said.

Geisler has gained Thompson's confidence as a kicker and punter. Last season, he averaged 38.6 yards per punt, made all 13 of his extra points and converted five of eight field goals.

After a summer of lifting weights and practicing with his brother, Ryan, a former Camarillo kicker, Geisler is ready for his best season.

"He's stronger," Thompson said. "I wouldn't hesitate for a 52-yarder now."

Geisler has played soccer since he was 5. He didn't try football until his freshman season, and that was only so he could "make more friends."

He took a leap of faith in seeking to transfer his soccer skills to kicking a football.

"I really didn't know," he said. "The first kicks weren't too high. They were like a shot on goal. I kept on trying and didn't give up."

It has helped Geisler to have a brother with kicking skills. Ryan set a Cal Lutheran record as a freshman last season when he made a 57-yard field goal. The brothers practiced together this summer at Camarillo, taking turns trying to beat the other in kicking competitions.

"We play games to see who has to fetch the ball," Ryan said. "We each get three kicks. When we tie, we have to do paper, rock, scissors."

Ryan usually won the kicking contest, but Jason was the champ of paper, rock, scissors.

Even more valuable was Jason's appearance at the Ray Guy Kicking Academy in Redlands. He received a quick course on kicking fundamentals and finished second in the long-distance competition.

"I was impressed how far and how high he kicked it," said Gerald Robinson, one of the camp's instructors. "He has so much room for improvement. When he perfects it and gets stronger with age, he's going to be real good. He's just smooth. He kicks it far and high and doesn't look like he's kicking it far and high. It shoots off his foot."

Geisler has all the characteristics of a kicker. He clowns around at practice, doesn't fear pressure and is intelligent.

He's 17 but hasn't bothered to get his driver's license. He has taken three years of German and put it to use last summer on a trip to Europe.

From a 5-foot-11, 145-pound sophomore, Geisler has matured into a 6-foot, 177-pound senior.

"Jason is my little kid growing up," said his mother, Pam. "He was the kid who had a 24-hour smile on his face. He'll still come up and put a hug around me or his dad, things I don't think teenage boys will do."

What happens if Geisler decides to hug his head coach this season to get his attention for a 55-yard attempt?

"If he makes it, I'll kiss him," Thompson said.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

TOP KICKERS/PUNTERS

Name, school, ht., wt. year, comment

1. Jason Geisler, Camarillo, 5-11, 145, Sr.

His range is 55 yards

2. Robert LaPlante, Lancaster, 6-2, 240, Jr.

Kicked 10 field goals last season

3. Steve Howard, Buena, 6-0, 180, Jr.

Might be best in the region one day

4. John Wall, Birmingham, 5-9, 165, Jr.

A soccer goalie with a football future

5. Matt Bernstein, Calabasas, 5-10, 165, Jr.

Top JV kicker in region last season

6. Reggie Lee, Chatsworth, 6-2, 190, Sr.

A terrific athlete with powerful leg

7. Pat Terry, Canyon, 6-1, 170, Sr.

Should average better than 40 yards per punt

8. Matt Ryburn, Village Christian, 5-11, 175, Sr.

Hopes to return to sophomore form

9. Jesse Nicassio, Oak Park, 6-0, 178, Sr.

Punting is his specialty

10. Jose Arroyo, Van Nuys, 6-0, 190, Sr.

Destined for All-City honors

11. Rick Grossman, Thousand Oaks, 5-11, 185, Sr.

Worked hard to improve in off-season

12. Christian Thomsen, Notre Dame, 6-1, 160, Jr.

Has the leg strength to excel

13. Seth Santoro, Crescenta Valley, 6-1, 185, Sr.

His punts can soar

14. Brian Borreson, Chaminade, 5-11, 160, So.

Young kicker with great potential

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