Kicker can toss 'em too

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:29 AM ET

If Hamilton Tiger-Cats fans feel like hurling when they step into Ivor Wynne Stadium, Sandro DeAngelis can relate.

In his first year as a professional football player, DeAngelis was so nervous playing in front of friends and family in Hamilton, he couldn't hold down his pre-game meal .

It was Game 12 of his CFL career in 2005 when the rookie threw up moments before kickoff of what would be a 39-17 Calgary Stampeders victory.

The kicker didn't have much part of it. DeAngelis went 1-of-3 on field-goal attempts, and was roadkill for returner Jesse Lumsden while covering a kickoff.

So when he hits the field tomorrow for his third professional visit to the CFL city closest to his hometown of Niagara Falls, DeAngelis won't forget the first one.

"I had played in front of 110,000 before and wasn't as nervous," said the University of Nebraska product. "It was almost that I came full circle.

"I played there as a little squirt with my brother. I've played a lot of soccer games on that field.

"Bam, you're 24 and a pro football player doing your thing where it all began. There were a lot of emotions running through me that day."

There are always nerves to deal with as a field-goal kicker, but DeAngelis is as cool as they come on the field.

He seemed to exorcise the Ivor Wynne demons last year by going 3-for-4, including hitting a 37-yarder with just over four minutes left to tie the score in what turned out to be a Calgary loss.

Still, a flood of memories come back when he goes to Hamilton, but he's hoping the anxiety is the same as any other road stadium.

"The nerves also help you focus and shows you care," DeAngelis said. "I don't think you will ever get rid of them 100 percent. Nerves are a good thing. It's like they are six inches off your back and will never catch you, but are still there."

Quietly, DeAngelis is on his way to an outstanding season. He leads the CFL with an 87.5% efficiency rating, although he isn't getting quite as many attempts as the previous two seasons.

He is still perfect from inside the 40-yard line and has already booted a game-winner, a 32-yarder to win the first meeting in Edmonton. Since that game, DeAngelis has made 10 straight.

The 5-ft.-8 DeAngelis is contributing in other ways, evidenced by his nice submarine tackle of Saskatchewan's Corey Holmes this past weekend that likely saved a kickoff-return touchdown.

He was busy kicking in that game, nailing three field goals, but his time is now taken up this week being a ticketmaster.

Because his entire family wants to see him play, DeAngelis is working hard arranging as many seats as possible at Ivor Wynne.

"I'm a bit stressed right now because I have to get tickets for every Italian in the Niagara peninsula," said DeAngelis, who is fighting teammate Jay McNeil for extra seats for teammates.

"How many of them I have to pay for is the question."

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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