REGINA – The Saskatchewan Roughriders wrapped up their walk-through on Friday afternoon with players and coaches going through the regular routine of talking with the media, while one lone member of the team remained on the field.
Number 14 in white, Tyler Crapigna, carefully marked his steps and made mental notes of different spots on the field.
“Just visualization,” said the rookie kicker. “Probably about 80-85 percent of the kicking game is mental, so that’s just what I’m trying to get ready for.”
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The 23-year old was acquired from Calgary at the CFL trade deadline as part of the deal that sent running back Jerome Messam to the Stampeders. On Saturday he’ll make his CFL debut.
“Excitement,” said Crapigna. “It’s that feeling of playing, to start. I mean I was on a great team in Calgary, but I was just backing up and this is a chance for me to prove what I can do.”
“It’s a chance for me to take it and run with it.”
The kid can kick.
Crapigna finished his university career at McMaster as the CIS all-time leader in field goals with 84 and he already has his foot in the door in Saskatchewan. The Riders have de-activated 45-year old Paul McCallum, so Crapigna will handle the duties for the rest of 2015. He’s hoping to kick the door wide open with his play over the final three games.
“It seems like the common word to be using here is exciting,” he said. “It’s a chance for me to take it and run with it. This is what I’ve been hoping for since day one, since I came into this league.”
There will no doubt be some nerves from the young kicker, but interim head coach Bob Dyce isn’t worried.
“If you’ve ever dealt with kickers you don’t know what to necessarily say, or to not say anything for that matter,” Dyce said with a smile. ” I make the odd joke. I asked the other day ‘what’d be your max distance?’ He gave me a yardage and I said ‘well, you guys think your leg’s stronger than it is.’
But joking aside, Dyce does believe Crapigna is ready to embrace his role with the team.
“We’ve talked about the opportunity. He’s very excited. He’s a very focused young man,” explained Dyce. ” I’m excited to see him play, I’m excited for him, and just excited to see him get out there.”
The Riders host the Edmonton Eskimos for their final home game of the season this Saturday at Mosaic Stadium. Kick-off is set for 5 p.m.