HHS senior named Kicker of the Year
Field position is an important asset to high school football.
A big part of having great field position means having a great kicker and according to NMPreps.com, the Hobbs Eagles had the best kicker for the 2017 season.
Senior Enrique Ramirez was named the 2017 New Mexico Kicker of the Year Wednesday by the Rivals.com-based website that covers New Mexico high school sports. The long-kicking Ramirez was known to frustrate opposing special teams players by continuously knocking kickoffs into the end zone for a touchback. That forced Hobbs’ opponents into a starting field position at the 20 yard-line the majority of the time this season.
That is one of the factors that made Hobbs one of the toughest teams in New Mexico football, as the Eagles finished in a 49-24 Class 6A quarterfinal loss at Rio Rancho Cleveland for a 9-3 season.
“I’m so excited because this was my goal since the end of last season,” Ramirez said on Thursday. The Eagles kicker found out about the award Wednesday morning when a varsity assistant coach texted him the news. “I wanted to be the best kicker in New Mexico and I jumped up and down and screamed, and then I called my mom to tell her the news.”
Eagles head coach Charles Gleghorn said that Ramirez didn’t have the opportunity to kick extra points during his junior year because the team also had a good kicker in David Ortega. Ramirez was primarily used for kickoffs. This past season, Ramirez took on a majority of the kicking responsibilities. He was 4 of 5 in field goals, with his longest being 36 yards and he knocked in 86 of 98 career extra points.
Ramirez said he made it a point of personal pride to kick every kickoff into the end zone for a touchback.
“It’s all about the field position and helping my defense by giving them has much room to defend,” Ramirez said. “When I kick off my goal is to kick over the heads of those special teams receivers. It felt good to make those receivers frustrated that they can’t return my kickoffs.”
Through the last 11 games of the season, MaxPreps.com shows Ramirez kicking touchbacks in 58 percent of the kickoffs he kicked (47-81). He was 4 of 5 in field goals and 77 of 80 in extra point attempts. He had one extra point blocked and another missed in the Sept. 22 game against the Centennial Hawks. Then he missed his third extra point against Gadsden on Oct. 13. Since then Ramirez is 38 for 38 in extra-point kicks (including 11 for 11 against Las Cruces Oñate) and 2 for 2 in field goals.
“I knew he had a pretty good streak going,” said Gleghorn. “I was thinking about that following our game at Carlsbad, but I didn’t want to look it up because I felt it would jinx him.”
Ramirez credits the award to the hard work he put in last school year and summer. He worked with local kicking expert Adam Richards on a variety of drills and stuck to a strict stretching regiment that allowed him to progress. He said he is in the process of putting together video of his kicks to send to colleges.
“I really like Oklahoma, but honestly, anywhere would be great,” Ramirez said on his college choice.
Joshua Grine of NMPreps.com was in charge of the voting and said the website has announced the annual awards since 2006.
“But what I added this year was incorporating media members from other outlets in the voting process,” Grine stated. “Prior to that we did most internal nominations and awards. We have added more to the voting and nomination process.”
Three groups were involved in the voting: NMPreps, media and fan vote. Hobbs News-Sun Sports Editor Jason Farmer was part of the media group that listed Ramirez first on its list. Ramirez received 34.5 percent of the overall vote and 3 of 4 first-place media votes. Hunter Harrison, of Cibola, received the fourth media first-place vote.
Eunice’s Pit Kramer finished second overall in the vote with 31 percent. Albuquerque Hope Christian’s Vince Quezada finished third with 24.1 percent of the vote. Albuquerque West Mesa’s A.J. Pyszko was the only other kicker who received any votes.
“That’s great for Pit to be recognized,” said Eunice head coach Ken Stevens. “He had a great year. The Hobbs kid had a lot of points this year, so it’s a neat honor to Pit and a credit to our football program.”
On Thursday, Grine announced two more individual awards with Eunice’s Cameron Santa Cruz finishing second in the state to Las Cruces Oñate’s Monroe Young for New Mexico Secondary Player of the Year. Santa Cruz was named the Hobbs News-Sun’s Lea County Defensive Player of the Year and Class 3A Player of the Year by Albuquerque-based television station KRQE.
“Cameron keeps racking up the awards and that’s great,” Stevens said. “He’s had several accolades and it’s hard to argue against a kid like Young who is getting (NCAA Division-1) offers.”
Grine said Monroe has offers from several universities including New Mexico State and UTEP.
“Cameron had seven interceptions this year and as well as he plays the pass, he’s a strong, physical player with 86 tackles this year,” said Stevens. “He’s an outstanding player and young man. That’s something we are proud of. He does very well in the classroom, is respectful and full of good character. We are proud of the accomplishments that he has received.”
Grine said the website will continue to dole out more individual awards on a daily basis, including New Mexico Mr. Football (the highest individual honor), 2017 All-New Mexico Team, players of the year from the six respective classes and position players of the year, such as quarterback, running back, wide receiver and linebacker.
Grine said Thursday that Hobbs senior quarterback Gavin Hardison is a finalist for New Mexico Mr. Football, “He would be the first Hobbs player to win it if he does, it’s close,” he said.
Hardison broke the New Mexico record for passing yards this year with 5,347 yards and added 59 touchdowns to 9 interceptions. He has already announced that he will play college ball at New Mexico Military Junior College next year.
“He certainly deserves all that he is up for,” Gleghorn said. “Breaking the record for most passing yards is like breaking the home run record in baseball. It’s a big deal. And it’s not like Hobbs is the only team in New Mexico that is throwing the ball. Aztec does it, so does Farmington and we all know how Artesia has done it for years.”
Gleghorn said that while Hardison should have gotten more looks from Division-1 schools, he feels that Hardison will get some exposure being at NMMI.
“NMMI’s quarterback last year is at Ole Miss and the one before that went to Nebraska,” Gleghorn said. “Going to NMMI will launch him somewhere.”