DeAngelis joins the club

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:29 AM ET

TORONTO -- Sandro DeAngelis invaded Noel Prefontaine's turf yesterday carrying a newfound credibility with the CFL's most respected kicker.

Six days after booting his first professional game-winning field goal in an opponent's stadium, DeAngelis has impressed the veteran Toronto Argonaut.

Consider the rookie Calgary Stampeder a full-fledged member of the exclusive fraternity to which football kickers belong.

"You don't welcome him into the fraternity, he has to go out there and prove his worth," said Prefontaine. "Regardless of the team you are playing against, you have to gain respect by playing. In Sandro's case, he's earned a lot of respect for what he's done.

"Hitting that game winner in Montreal was key for Sandro. He has that game-winning mentality. That's great to have as a kicker. I don't gather any sense of weakness from him about not wanting to finish the game with his leg."

In their first meeting -- after the Argos' Canada Day victory at McMahon Stadium -- DeAngelis sheepishly approached Prefontaine and told him how much he admired his work over the years.

The meeting couldn't have gone better as both players walked away impressed with each other's professionalism.

DeAngelis was in high school in Buffalo but living in Niagara Falls, Ont., when Prefontaine joined the Argonauts in 1998. The 24-year-old has long since considered Toronto's outstanding athlete one of his role models.

"Three months ago, I was in college and now these are my colleagues," said the awestruck DeAngelis during the Stamps walkthrough yesterday.

"I've been watching him for years. I'm still getting out of the rookie nervousness. I'm never overwhelmed on the field because that's where I feel at home. I'm more scared to talk to them afterwards because I've looked up to them so long."

The Nebraska product has had quite a whirlwind season with the Stamps. He started the year perfect in 17 field-goal attempts including pre-season, plus got to meet former CFLer Terry Baker during training camp before leading the league in field-goal percentage.

In his short career, DeAngelis has sat down to talk with kickers Paul McCallum and Paul Osbaldiston about their specialty. He also just finished reading former Roughriders Hall-of-Famer Dave Ridgeway's book.

Prefontaine was impressed with DeAngelis' respect for those who came before him and pleased to be mentioned in that group.

"I think it's neat. It's the ultimate respect you can get from a kid who comes up and watches you play and admires what you do on the field," Prefontaine said.

"I was the same way when I came in with Bob Cameron, Terry Baker and Lui Passaglia in the league and being successful.

"You have to honour that to a certain degree. Sandro has been very respectful so it's very nice to see him have a good season."

DeAngelis hopes to take Prefontaine out for a bite to eat following tonight's game at Rogers Centre.

It's a ritual the current CFL's special-teams player of the week plans on using when facing kickers such as Sean Fleming, Matt Kellett and Troy Westwood.

"You have to be a sponge and soak it all up," he said. "If you can learn one little thing from each guy, that's incredible.

"These guys have lived it. You can't take a guy like Terry Baker and tell me after 16 years in the CFL, if you talked to him for an hour, you can't learn something.

"These are things I try to incorporate and it's really neat to get to know guys and make friends across the league."


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