Schiavone is the Apprentice no more

Being an apprentice kicker in the CFL can be a true test of one’s patience as veteran kickers can play well into their late 30s to early 40s. Paul McCallum has been in the league for 18 years and is still able to fend off Sean Whyte from taking over as the starter. Prior to McCallum’s arrival with the BC Lions, Lui Passaglia played for 25 years. How would you have liked to be Lui’s apprentice? In a game where superstar careers can be made and finished in as little as five years, kickers break the mold.

Derek Schiavone signed with the Eskimos as a free agent in May of 2008, just 12 months after general manager Danny Maciocia had selected Warren Kean as the second overall selection in the 2007 CFL Draft. Kean, as most Esks fans know, never quite panned out as the kicker Maciocia thought he would be and has bounced around the league for the past few years. Schiavone did enough in camp that year to earn a spot on the practice roster and began what would become a two and half year apprenticeship as the Esks kicker of the future.

In the meantime, 16 year veteran Sean Flemming was calling it a career and the Esks needed someone to handle what had been a pretty reliable position. Kean was supposed to be filling the role, much as Rob Maver is doing in Calgary this year, but that plan was now starting to go out the window. Enter Noel Prefontaine, who the Esks obtained for their first round draft pick in 2009, which was subsequently traded to BC and became linebacker James Yurichuk. Prefontaine, as we all know, was eventually traded back to Toronto this past week for another 2009 first round draft pick, Etienne Legare, who was selected two spots prior to Yurichuk.

Over the past two and half years, Schiavone has been fairly solid when called upon to perform in games, going 13 of 14 on field goal attempts over three seasons. The coaching staff has seems to have been careful not to put him in a situation where he could fail, as he has never been asked to attempt a field goal from outside of 40 yards. His only miss to date in his professional career was on a 30 yard attempt against Montreal in the second game of the year this season. It should be noted that despite his consistency, Schiavone has never made a field goal longer than 39 yards in either his college or professional career.

It’s safe to say that if Schiavone is truly the kicker of the future for the Esks, the time has come for him to stand up and be counted as a player able to be a key contributor. With Prefontaine gone, the Esks will find out if their young kicker is the real deal or not. He’s made positive steps with opportunities he has been given, but will now have to make the leap from prospect to player. Here’s hoping for the best, because Schiavone, through a mix of patience and work ethic, has proved he derserves the chance to succeed in the CFL.


One response to this post.

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