Serna’s Mr. Adversity

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:48 PM ET

Poor Alexis Serna.

First, he has head coach Doug Berry screaming in his ear as a tender rookie.

He was caught up in the whole Troy Westwood soap opera, too.

The guy’s also been through five different holders in just two years as the field goal kicker for the Blue Bombers, including four last season.

And just when things looked to be settling into a routine this season, down goes the only professional long snapper he’s ever known.

Ask Serna about this latest development, though — Chris Cvetkovic is out for the year with a knee injury — and you don’t get much more than a shrug.

“It’s not like punting, where you receive the ball from the snapper,” Serna was saying after practice, Tuesday. “I just watch the holder’s hands.”

Trouble is, when those hands are scrambling to get the ball on the tee, as they were in Winnipeg’s season opener last Friday, it throws the kicker off his rhythm.

Three times holder Mike Renaud struggled to get the ball down against Hamilton, and all three times Serna missed the kick.

The problems got rookie snapper Adam Bestard fired Monday.

They also led to a few boos aimed Serna’s way. Because hardly anybody sees the snap — just the end result.

“That’s not my job to worry about,” the little kicker from California said. “My job is just to put every single kick through no matter what the situation is.”

The situation last Friday wasn’t good. Had it been a close game lost by the home team, those three misses would be the talk of the town.

Enter new snapper Taylor Inglis, a former Edmonton Eskimo who’ll try to do this Friday against the Argos what Bestard couldn’t: fly under the radar.

“They were a little bit lower,” Renaud said of the snaps in question, quickly adding he could have handled them better. “I’d kind of have to twist my body a bit. So I’m a little off, too. And if the ball is kind of behind me and low, it could cause problems. It’s a timing thing. So if it’s not there when Alexis comes, I’ve got to rush it just so he can get something off.”

Think of it as a three-part harmony. You know how bad it sounds when one person’s off. Then the others try to compensate.

“I kind of panic in the situation where I know I gotta get the ball down and spin the laces out and tilt it towards me,” Renaud said. “But if I don’t have the time to do that, I just get the ball there. So he might be kicking laces, he might be kicking it straight up, as opposed to what he likes.”

Serna admits his focus was thrown off.

It’s kind of like a golfer who hates the sight of a fly on the ball.

Only with Serna, it’s the laces.

“He doesn’t like to see them, period,” Renaud said. “As long as he doesn’t see laces, then we’re good.”

Part of it’s mental.

When one or two snaps are bad and the kicks go wide, you start to wonder what the next one’s going to look like.

“Then you start scratching your head,” Renaud said. “You think, ‘Alexis is better than this.’ ”

With the veteran Cvetkovic, the snaps seemed automatic.

“Best in the league,” Renaud said.

“There’s a reason why he’s been here for so long,” added Serna. “We had a lot of chemistry with that. It was just the whole combination.”

A combination that has a new number this week.

So let’s spin those tumblers and see what happens.

Maybe all the parts will work together to perfection, and we’ll never talk about long snapping again.

Or maybe Serna’s Blue Bomber adventure will continue.

“Things happen,” the kicker shrugged. “So you’ve got to adjust.”

It’s that simple.

And it’s not.

Contact Paul at paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca or 632-2788.


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