SCOTT SLANT: Kicking a few things around

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Wednesday, August 7, 2019.

You’ve got quarterback, running back, and even linebacker under the microscope during Boise State fall camp. But the Broncos need some kicking help. I’m anxious to see if walk-on graduate transfer Eric Sachse is an answer. Since word came out at the end of January that Sachse, a Division III kicker from Trinity College in Connecticut, was headed to Boise State, I waited for him to show up on the roster. He did at the dawn of fall camp. Sachse’s singular goal last season was to get a look from an FBS school and spend his final year there, and here he is. Sachse connected on 29 of 36 career field goal attempts at Trinity (the Broncos as a team were 12-of-20 last year). Included was Sachse’s 50-yard field goal last September, a school record and a rarity in D-III.

A story by the Hartford Courant’s Mike Anthony last fall talked about how Sachse gave up hockey as a junior in high school and learned to kick a football, first relying on YouTube instructional videos. Sachse continued to play baseball in prep school. “We enjoy him because he’s not really a kicker,” Trinity coach Jeff Devanney told Anthony. “What I mean is, sometimes you get kickers who are just weird human beings. Sachse is not a weird dude. He’s a baseball player who happens to be a kicker.” According to Anthony, it’s been Sachse’s dream to be kicking in a packed stadium, on TV, in a bowl game. “I’m coming from a school with 2,000 (students) where we get a couple thousand (fans) at the games,” Sachse said last fall. “Now it’s just competing against myself. I’ve just got to make every kick.”


Sachse is competing with veteran Joel Velazquez and true freshman Gavin Wale to do Boise State’s placekicking. Velazquez is the only one we only saw in the spring game in April—he did make a 27-yard field goal. He handled the majority of the Broncos’ kickoffs last season, recording touchbacks on 38 of 62 boots. It appears to be Velazquez against Wale, cousin of former Bronco Sean Wale, for the punter’s spot. With Quinn Skillin the starter last year, Velazquez punted only twice, averaging 35 yards. In the spring game, Velazquez’s attempts covered 37, 32 and 27 yards. That job is wide open.


One of the biggest trends in college football over the past 25 years or so has been the proliferation of players with South Pacific heritage, from the Hawaiian Islands on down. So you’ve got to be good to be named to the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year award watch list. Boise State has four nominees: senior defensive tackle David Moa, senior nose tackle Sonatane Lui, senior safety Kekoa Nawahine, and junior nickel Kekaula Kaniho. It’s Moa’s fourth consecutive appearance on the list and the second straight for Lui and Nawahine.


The newest of the six former Boise State standouts on the Dallas roster—newer than Cedrick Wilson—is veteran safety George Iloka. Brian Broaddus at DallasCowboys com profiled him at the outset of training camp with this: “Can George Iloka Win A Starting Spot?” Broaddus notes that Iloka, a free agent acquisition from Minnesota, “has never been to a Pro Bowl, but he has started 79 games, compiling 362 tackles with nine interceptions over the course of a six-year career. Iloka signed a one-year deal, adding a veteran presence to an otherwise young safety group—and potentially challenging for a starting job.” Said Iloka, “My goal from Day 1 is just to have the best year of my career.” He’ll get his first preseason sampling Saturday night when the Cowboys visit San Francisco.


It’s been the best-kept secret in Idaho. The State Board of Education is meeting in Boise today to “consider hiring and approving a contract for a new athletic director at the University of Idaho.” The school is confident it’s a done deal, as new Idaho president C. Scott Green will host a press conference to introduce the AD shortly thereafter at the Idaho Water Center on Broadway. A week from Friday will mark the one-year anniversary of the firing of former AD Rob Spear. That’s a long time to go with interim leadership.


Some think as many as 20 players from Tuesday night’s Northwest League/Pioneer League All-Star Game at Memorial Stadium will end up in the big leagues. Maybe some of the game’s stars will, at least. The focal point was shortstop Jeremiah Johnson of the Pioneer League’s Orem Owlz, who broke the game open with a grand slam in the third inning, and the PIO went on to defeat the theoretically more experienced NWL 11-7. Jackson was a second-round draft pick of the L.A. Angels in 2018. He’s batting .259 this season, but he’s been a basher, hitting 14 home runs with 38 RBI. Speaking of dingers, the Home Run Derby was a show. Salem-Keizer’s Sean Roby won it when he hit 18 homers in the final round.


Idaho dropped baseball in 1980, the same year Boise State did. Some pretty good talent went through Moscow, including Ken Schrom, who was also a Vandals quarterback. Schrom went on to the majors, where he pitched for seven years, going 51-51 with a 4.81 ERA and 22 complete games for Toronto, Minnesota and Cleveland. He has since spent 32 years as a front office executive in the minors, the last 16 with the Corpus Christi Hooks of the Double-A Texas League. Schrom, now 64, will retire at the end of the season and be honored at a September 1 game that includes a Ken Schrom bobblehead giveaway. Schrom was named Texas League Executive of the Year in 2005, the Hooks’ inaugural season, and he was inducted into the league’s Hall of Fame in 2016.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by POOL DOCTOR & SPA…so many ways to soak and save!

August 7, 1995: The return of the Raiders to Oakland is made official when Al Davis signs a lease that commits the team to at least a 16-year stay at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The Raiders would resume play in the Bay Area a month later. Davis had moved the team to Los Angeles in 1982. But the Raiders never really won over fans there. The L.A. Rams also moved to St. Louis in 1995, and the nation’s second-largest market went without NFL football until the Rams returned 21 years later. Now Oakland is about to be lacking the NFL again—this time probably forever.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)

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