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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Geisler Seems to Be Back on Straight and Narrow for Kingsmen

September 08, 2000|VINCE KOWALICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

THOUSAND OAKS — Kicking field goals, Ryan Geisler can attest, has its highs and lows.

High: In 1997, Geisler, a freshman from Camarillo High, kicked a school-record 57-yarder in his first attempt for Cal Lutheran at home against Pacific Lutheran.

Low: In 1998, Geisler missed all six field goal attempts at Pacific Lutheran, and Cal Lutheran lost, 20-14, in double-overtime.

Such is life trying to split the uprights--which is a bit like splitting hairs.

"It's a lot of technique, really," Geisler said. "A lot of it is leg strength, but it's your steps. If your plant foot is just an inch or so off, or if you plant it too far back, you'll miss. Everything's got to be perfect."

Geisler, good from three-point range more often than not, appears to be at the top of his game entering his senior season. He will tee it up Saturday when Cal Lutheran opens the season against Pacific Lutheran, defending Division III national champion, at Tacoma, Wash.

The Kingsmen will try to rebound from a 3-6 record and third-place finish in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Chris Czernek, who passed for 1,665 yards and 10 touchdowns, and Dorian Stitt, who led the Kingsmen with 639 yards rushing, return as starters.

Geisler, who last season led the nation in field-goal efficiency, figures to continue getting his kicks.

Geisler connected on 14 of 18, including two longer than 50 yards, while earning Division III All-American honors last season. He also made 23 of 25 extra-point attempts and led Cal Lutheran in scoring with 65 points.

Quite a turnaround for Geisler, who as a sophomore was only three of 12 on three-pointers.

"He's back on track now," Coach Scott Squires of Cal Lutheran said. "He's worked his tail off all off-season. We're glad to have him here."

For Squires, in his fifth season at Cal Lutheran, the opener against Pacific Lutheran--billed as the Lutheran Brotherhood Kickoff Classic--marks a homecoming. Squires played defensive back and linebacker for Pacific Lutheran and longtime Coach Frosty Westering, and was a member of the Lutes' 1985 NAIA Division II national championship team.

For Geisler, the trip to Tacoma will mark a return to Sparks Stadium, scene of the 0-for-6 debacle. It's a score he longs to settle.

Among Geisler's written list of goals are a SCIAC championship and improvement on accuracy and performance in the clutch.

As a senior at Camarillo, he made nine of 13 field goals and 56 of 60 extra-point attempts, leading the team in scoring as the Scorpions won a Southern Section title.

Geisler had never played organized football until his senior year. A converted soccer player, Geisler opted for football after being coaxed by coaches.

"You look at his career in high school and nobody really knew about him," Squires said. "But we knew about him through our soccer coaches because he came up playing soccer in camps at Cal Lutheran."

Rather than bask in accolades, however, Geisler chooses to dwell on two missed field-goal attempts against Occidental last season and a missed extra-point attempt against La Verne.

The missed extra point--attempted from 35 yards because of a celebration penalty against the Kingsmen--ultimately cost Cal Lutheran victory, despite four field goals by Geisler.

While teammates practice, Geisler separates himself, attempting kicks from kooky angles in an attempt to hone his accuracy.

At 6 feet 1 and 200 pounds, Geisler doesn't fit the mold of most kickers. In fact, he considers himself a tad overweight.

But Geisler has no desire to perform other than as a kicker.

"I'm pretty content being a kicker," Geisler said. "Watching these guys get knocked around, I don't mind."

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CAL LUTHERAN ROSTER

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