Bombers' Serna on thin ice

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:38 PM ET

Alexis Serna can start looking over his shoulder.

The object in his rearview mirror — another kicker out for his job — is getting closer.

Winnipeg Blue Bomber head coach Paul LaPolice, who brought no competition at the kicker position to training camp, has seen enough through six weeks of the regular season.

The last straw: Serna’s two misses, from 32 and 28 yards, in Saturday’s damaging 29-22 loss to the Tiger-Cats in Hamilton.

“We’re in the process of bringing in somebody to compete,” LaPolice said Monday, acknowledging Serna probably cost his team the game. “Certainly ... you’ve got to make those kicks. If you got the six points, at the end of the game you’re just kicking a field goal from 10 yards out for the win.”

Serna has been the CFL’s least accurate kicker this season, making just over half his attempts (eight of 14) and eroding the confidence of his head coach.

LaPolice says he was already doubting Serna’s ability to make longer kicks. Now, the short ones have become an adventure, too.

“As a coach my job is to react to what I see,” LaPolice said. “We weren’t successful at the longer ones, so, OK, we don’t take the long ones and maybe we pin them at the one-yard line and we stop them and then we get in a position to kick the other ones.

“That’s what’s difficult, when we drive it inside the 30 and we miss. That’s when it can be frustrating for an offence.”

The coach said the team has contacted “three or four” kickers, and he doesn’t care if they’re Canadian or American — as long as they can split the uprights on a consistent basis.

“Experience helps,” LaPolice said. “That is one of the first criteria.”

As the Sun reported Monday, the Bombers, 2-4, have contacted former Toronto star Justin Medlock, former Saskatchewan punter Louie Sakoda and Chris Gould, a product of the University of Virginia.

Medlock has rebuffed their advances, as he’s trying to land an NFL contract after connecting on 40 of 46 field goals for the Argos last season.

Former Ticat Nick Setta could also be on the radar, although he’s been out of football and may be demanding a hefty paycheque to get back in.

After a trying rookie season under coach Doug Berry, Serna appeared to blossom last year under Mike Kelly, hitting 40 of 49 attempts for a club record 81.6%.

This year, though, he’s already had two misses returned for touchdowns.

LaPolice didn’t rule out the possibility a new kicker could suit up for Friday’s rematch with the Ticats.

MISTAKES APLENTY: Serna wasn’t alone, as LaPolice had plenty of mistakes to lament after watching the film of Saturday’s game.

Many were small errors, with big consequences, like the offside penalty by receiver Chris Davis that negated what would have been a big play by running back Fred Reid.

“You hear Fred screaming on the sideline, because he was walking in for a touchdown,” LaPolice said. “And that changes the game. So we have to keep educating our players: be detailed, do the right things every time. Because you don’t know when that play is.”

Puzzled by the number of offside penalties by his offence, LaPolice says he still has confidence in his players.

“But if they continue to make mistakes we have to make change.”

BRIGHT SIDE: Here’s the head coach on linebacker Clint Kent, who got his first start after the release of Ike Charlton last week.

“He made our special teams better. He’ll get better. He’s a fast, athletic kid. He had his struggles on Dave Stala once, but we’ve just got to get (him) reps.”

And on return man Deon Beasley: “Two very good returns. They stopped kicking to him. For his first time out he hit the hole fast. You want your kick returner to find the seam and go. He did a very good job of that.”

FIRST AID ROOM: Starting O-lineman Andre Douglas hurt a ligament (PCL) in his right knee, but it’s too early to know if or how long he’ll be out.

LaPolice says other players were banged up but none serious enough to miss Friday’s game.

As for quarterback Buck Pierce, practice, beginning Tuesday, will determine if he’s ready to play this week.

paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca


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