Prefontaine got a kick start

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON

, Last Updated: 9:41 AM ET

REGINA -- Edmonton Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia might want to consider shaking Gary Etcheverry's hand before today's game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders and saying thanks for playing a role in Noel Prefontaine's kicking career.

Etcheverry - a defensive assistant coach with the Riders - gave Prefontaine a second chance as a field-goal kicker in the CFL in 2002.

It was one of the most important decisions relating to Prefontaine's career because he finished that campaign for the Toronto Argonauts with a stellar 84.4% success rate on field goals and ended any doubts about his ability in this league.

SAW PROMISE

"He knew what I was capable of," said Prefontaine on Etcheverry, who was the Argos head coach for the first-half of 2002.

"He felt that the key to my success was people leaving me alone and not saying to me and talking to me about kicking.

"(He) was extremely important (to my career)."

Now the Edmonton Eskimos kicker, Prefontaine is having another rock-solid season.

Successful on 75.6% of his field goals this year, Prefontaine is on pace to be above 72% for the sixth time in the last seven CFL seasons.

It has been quite a difference from his rookie year - 1998 in Toronto - when Prefontaine produced a dreadful 43.5% success rate on field goals.

That cost him the job for the following three years in Toronto before Etcheverry showed some faith.

"I had brought Pre to the CFL," said Etcheverry. "I had a very good friend of mine in southern California, who had been around and about and had told me about Pre.

1998 DRAFT

"We were able to bring him in (through) the supplemental draft of 1998 in Toronto with Don Matthews as the head coach.

"I had done research after the fact and found out he had played for the winningest coach in California high school history.

"His high school coach consistently said as good of a punter as he is, he is a better field goal kicker."

It's impossible to know where Prefontaine's career would be today if Etcheverry hadn't offered another chance.

But what's clear is that Prefontaine hopes to someday coach with his good friend.


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