'Gades open boot camp

Kicker Brian Holmes attempts a field goal during an audition with the Renegades yesterday at Frank...

Kicker Brian Holmes attempts a field goal during an audition with the Renegades yesterday at Frank Clair Stadium. (Tony Caldwell, Ottawa Sun)

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:28 AM ET

The Renegades have added a placekicker to the practice roster, and the new kid on the block wants to put the boot to Sandro Sciortino. "Hopefully, I'll be here for a long time," said Brian Holmes, the newest addition to the Renegades' kicking scene.

And so the gauntlet has been dropped.

The appearance of the 26-year-old graduate of Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., forced Sciortino into the awkward situation of competing in a kicking showdown during yesterday's practice at Frank Clair Stadium.

It was like training camp in Kemptville -- all over again.

With Steve Glenn snapping and punter Pat Fleming holding, the kickers dueled it out for an hour during a field-goal competition from distances of 32, 42 and 52 yards, and from various angles from the left- and right-hash marks, and from the middle of the field.

KICKING TEST

Holmes, who arrived at the stadium just one hour prior to the start of practice after flying into town, missed two kicks from 32 yards, while Sciortino made all eight attempts from close range.

Both kickers made errors from 42 and 52 yards, and were 1-for-4 from the longest distance.

"I'm not sure what this does," Sciortino said. "I've been through this in college, so it's nothing new to me. They bring somebody in, so obviously I'm not kicking well, but it's part of the business."

Sciortino, a CFL rookie, has experienced an up-and-down season.

The Boston College grad booted a game-winning 31-yard field goal in the dying seconds of a 31-30 win over Calgary on July 29. Of late, however, his play has been nothing short of wretched.

SLUMP

Two weeks ago in Edmonton, he missed attempts from 29, 32 and 28 yards during the first half, getting just one point off a single. The Renegades trailed 26-16 at the halftime of an eventual 57-16 blowout.

Then last Saturday against the B.C. Lions, Sciortino shanked a 19-yard attempt wide left. Fans booed Sciortino mercilessly as he headed to the bench on the sideline.

"I don't blame them," said Sciortino. "They pay their money and they want to see a good show, right? ... That's the way it is. Home team or away team, you get booed. I'm a big boy and I can handle it."

The Renegades are banking that the competition at practice -- and the threat of somebody taking his job -- will encourage Sciortino to emerge from his current funk.

"Competition doesn't hurt anybody," said special teams coach Dave Easley. "A lot of times, a little bit of it makes people better."

Holmes, a Georgia native who tried out unsuccessfully with the NFL's Atlanta Falcons in 2002 and the Tennessee Titans last year, attended B.C.'s training camp last spring, but lost out to Canadian Duncan O'Mahony.

"I didn't do as good as I probably could have (yesterday), but I felt I did some good things," said Holmes. "Hopefully, I'll be kicking some more."

The Renegades also took a look yesterday at placekicker Mark Irvin, an Ottawa native who kicked and punted at Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B.

barre.campbell@ott.sunpub.com


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