TORONTO - Noel Prefontaine is feeling like a kid again.
The Argonauts place kicker and punter hit a last minute, game-winning field goal last weekend for the Toronto Argonauts.
But it was a couple of plays earlier in the game that raised eyebrows.
Twice he hustled downfield; once preventing Larry Taylor from heading for glory with an open-field tackle, second helping to knock Taylor down again on another play.
Now Prefontaine was never just a kicker. He was a football player who happened to kick.
But the past few years he hadnít been getting involved in the rough stuff with any regularity.
ďUltimately Iím getting sick and tired of listening to coaches and people tell me Iím too old to play this game,Ē said Prefontaine, who will turn 38 this year. ďThat was just a message to them. Age is just a number. Iím still capable of being a football player. Iím going to make plays any chance I get.Ē
Prefontaine, traded back to Toronto late last season from Edmonton, admits he hadnít been playing with the same rambunctious style ó not since suffering several concussions in 2007 with the Argos.
The first knock on the head came in the season opener against B.C. on a blocked punt. Then he banged his head again making a tackle against Saskatchewan in November.
ďI hurt my head making a couple of tackles and just had to be careful for a while,Ē he said. ďI had a stretch when I had concussion issues but Iím feeling better now. That coupled with all the shots I keep getting about being old, I felt I had to prove myself all over again.
ďItís always been part of my game. I donít take any less pride in it now than I did when I was 28.Ē
Prefontaine had some experience as a quarterback and played some safety at El Camino High School in San Diego. What he missed most about concentrating solely on kicking in college, said Prefontaine, was the contact. Argosí head coach Jim Barker isnít about to put any similar restraining orders on his kicker, either.
ďThatís what he does. Itís the style he plays and you canít ask a guy to change that. We have Grant Shaw (Prefontaineís under-study) if something happens to Pre ... Iíd never tell him to slow up. Thatís when guys get hurt,Ē said Barker.
ďHeís a football player. He was a quarterback in high school in southern California. Heís not your typical kicker. Grant has learned a lot from Pre and heís a lot like him. Theyíre football players who kick.Ē
During the Argosí Grey Cup season in 2004 the team was known for its great special teams unit and part of that success was due to Prefontaineís ability to close a coverage gap.
ďIím going to continue to play that way,Ē he said. ďItís really the only way I know to get enjoyment out of the game. Iíve always loved the contact: more than kicking field goals. If it cuts my career short well so be it.Ē