Padecky: Casa Grande's scholarship kicker's an even better person

  • Place kicker Matt Abramo makes an onside kick during Casa Grande High School varsity football practice, in Petaluma, Calif., on October 3, 2013. Abramo is collecting sponsors and raising money to help pay medical costs for 12-year-old Leukemia patient C.J. Banaszek, grandson of offensive line coach Cas Banaszek.(Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)

PETALUMA — Matt Abramo’s baby face hides it all. His voice, soft, without edges, provides further camouflage. His manner belongs in a library, as if noise is the great intruder and arrogance the greatest obscenity.

For the events of July 25 and July 26, Abramo was encouraged to hide nothing, to reveal everything, to be 16 years old, to act like he was 16, to respond to the events untethered, and no one would have responded in the negative.

On Friday the 25th Abramo, Casa Grande’s placekicker, announced he was verbally committing to Washington State University. Entering his senior year at Casa, Abramo has been judged to have “perhaps the strongest leg in the nation” by Chris Sailer. Sailer was a two-time All-American kicker at UCLA, kicked the longest field in UCLA history (56 yards), signed with the 49ers on 1999, played Arena Football for five years. A Sailer endorsement on a high school kicker is like a Joe Montana endorsement on a high school quarterback.

Abramo kicked at three of Sailer’s camps this summer. Abramo was ranked the top kicker at a Sailer camp in Las Vegas. Among 300 invited kickers Abramo had six kickoffs that averaged 72 yards with an average hang time of four seconds.

Abramo’s reaction to his Washington State announcement?

“My parents don’t have to pay for my college education,” said Abramo, who plans to major in civil engineering, his 4.17 overall GPA and his 1,860 SAT score providing evidence he’s up to it.

His measured reaction, however, didn’t include a party hat and multiple kazoos.

“I have to thank Trent Herzog,” Abramo said of Casa’s head football coach. “He guided me along the way, told me how to handle myself (while being recruited), what to look for.”

The next day Abramo spoke at a memorial service at Petaluma Valley Athletic Club for C.J. Banaszek, the 13-year old who died July 15 after a two-plus-year battle with childhood leukemia.

Did Abramo speak about the $2,000 he has raised for leukemia research? Did Abramo say he was going to wear something orange — C.J.’s favorite — on his Casa uniform or his Washington State uniform?

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