November 24, 2012
Grey Cup kickers Swayze Waters and Rene Paredes are confident
By TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency
TORONTO - If it comes down to skinny little guy with a clean uniform, as Dave Ridgway once eloquently put it, Swayze Waters and Rene Paredes would be happy to oblige.
Neither kicker -- Waters of the Argonauts and Paredes of the Calgary Stampeders -- sees himself wilting if the result of the 100th Grey Cup is in his hands Sunday night at the Rogers Centre. Or, more correctly, at the end of his foot.
"It's a different situation for kickers because we have our brothers out there battling all game and then it could be just you going out there," Waters said on Saturday after the Argos' final walk-through of 2012.
"If you are out there, you have made it before. There is never a play you can't make. That's where it becomes more mental. You have to take it back down a notch. You can enjoy the magnitude of the game after the game."
When Paredes closes his eyes, he envisions kicking a game-winning field goal in front of a packed stadium.
"I do a lot of visualization," Paredes said. "If it comes, I'll be ready for it. I know the team doesn't want to be stressed in the last two minutes of the game. I've been ready the whole season and I feel good about it."
Paredes, who played at Concordia, is about to wind up his second season with the Stampeders after getting cut by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers after trying out in training camp of 2011. Paredes spent some time working in the off-season in Kingston with former Montreal kicker Don Sweet, who was part of two Grey Cup champions in the 1970s, and on Friday, Sweet called Paredes with some advice.
"He just told me to do my thing, no matter what kind of kick it is, an extra point or a game-winning field goal," Paredes said. "He changed my approach to the ball (last spring). He thought I was swinging too much and he made me relax a little bit more. If you look at the film, my stance is totally different this year.
"And there is the mental aspect. He helped me with how to stay focused during the game. I talk to him once a week and he is always refreshing my memory."
Waters has had more of the nomadic life that kickers often experience, finally settling with the Argos after they signed him in July. Signed as an undrafted free agent by the Detroit Lions in 2009, Waters bounced around before attending camp with the Edmonton Eskimos in June. The Argos brought Waters on board not long after he was set free by the Eskimos.
Paredes, 27, and Waters, 25, both are making their Grey Cup debut, the first time in 25 years that both kickers have been Cup greenhorns. Paredes made 40 of 43 field-goal attempts in the regular season. His success rate of 93% was the second-best in Canadian Football League history, behind only the 94.3% clip that Paul McCallum achieved in 2011 with the B.C. Lions. Waters was not quite as good, connecting on 32 of 43 tries (74.4%), but he won't bristle with the thought of playing on such a big stage on Sunday.
"I love kicking because of the nerves, because of the adrenalin," Waters said. "I've been kicking for 12, 15 years and I've never got to the point where I don't get nervous. I just learn how to control it. As soon as I put my cleats on and kick my first warmup ball, I'm good and in my groove."
Back in 1989, Ridgway, with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, trotted on to the field at the former SkyDome and kicked a 35-yard field goal, winning the Grey Cup against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. It gave the 'Riders a 43-40 victory, causing Ridgway to make his infamous comment.
"It's the life of a kicker," Argos head coach Scott Milanovich said. "If you don't want that pressure, then you shouldn't be doing it. Hopefully, Swayze is dreaming about having that kick and that it comes down to his foot."