HSFB preview by position: Special talent for area kickers
Count Hempfield among the WPIAL teams that can score without ever reaching the end zone. With senior kicker John Domit, the Spartans must only approach the 30-yard line.
“I'll try him anywhere from about 52 yards and in,” said coach Rich Bowen, who's seen Domit make 15 field goals.
The WPIAL returns a solid collection of place kickers, punters and kickoff specialists.
Despite a one-win season, Butler kicker Devin Fitz was a first-team all-conference pick last year. Bethel Park's Chris Papalia was a first-team punter.
Domit was voted second-team all-conference in the Quad East behind Kiski Area's Adam Mitcheson, who's now a freshman kicker at Buffalo.
Domit's strength showed in Week 6, when he kicked three field goals against Altoona from 45, 42 and 23 yards.
“He's one of the best kickers in the WPIAL, if not the best,” Bowen said. “Strong leg. Pretty accurate. He keeps getting better every year.”
Also among those with three in one game were Mt. Lebanon's Rob Costantino and West Allegheny's D.J. Opsatnik.
1. John Domit
Hempfield, sr., 5-11, 170
Domit made 10 field goals last season, with three from beyond 40 yards. His makes were from 45, 43, 42, 33, 27, 26, 23, 23, 21 and 20 yards. He's made 15 of 24 field goals tried in two years. Domit also made 25 of 28 extra points last season.
2. Devin Fitz
Butler, jr., 5-10, 160
Butler scored only 76 points last season, yet Fitz earned first-team all-conference in the Quad North. He made four field goals, with two longer than 40 yards, and was 9 of 10 on extra points. His kicks covered 45, 41, 37 and 25 yards. In two seasons, Fitz has made 11 of 16 field goals. He also punts for Butler.
3. Mitch MacZura
Central Catholic, sr., 6-2, 195
A 16-game season kept MacZura busy last year, when the Vikings were state runners-up. He scored 103 points with 89 extra points, and made 5 of 7 field goals. His kicks covered 34, 29, 28, 28 and 28 yards. The 29-yarder came in Hershey.
4. Max Herold
Upper St. Clair, sr., 6-4, 175
Herold made only two field goals last season, but his leg was a weapon on kickoffs. Taller than many kickers, Herold sent 34 of his 71 kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks, according to team stats. He had at least two touchbacks in 11 of his 12 games, and missed only two extra points.
5. Chris Papalia
Bethel Park, sr., 5-11, 195
A first-team all-conference punter last season, Papalia has a strong leg that can kick beyond 40 yards with regularity and allowed no punt return touchdowns last season. A standout athlete, he also will play wide receiver and free safety for Bethel Park this season.
One to watch: D.J. Opsatnik
West Allegheny, so., 5-7, 140
As a freshman, Opsatnik kicked three field goals at Heinz Field in the WPIAL Class AAA championship, scoring from 20, 24 and 32 yards. In all, he made 9 of 12 field goal attempts and 51 of 54 extra points.