Pinelands kicker finds redemption in ending streak, plus Wildwood finds surprise running back - pressofAtlanticCity.com: Sports

Pinelands kicker finds redemption in ending streak, plus Wildwood finds surprise running back - pressofAtlanticCity.com: Sports

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Pinelands kicker finds redemption in ending streak, plus Wildwood finds surprise running back

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Posted: Saturday, September 21, 2013 9:45 pm

Pinelands Regional High School place-kicker Jon Kubricki missed three field goals in a preseason scrimmage.

Afterward, he went to his head coach and told him that he didn't want to do that again - to be in a position where he cost his team a win. Coach Brian Wilkinson described that day as the turning point for Kubricki.

Just weeks later, the sophomore kicker found himself in a similar position Friday night - this time helping his team to not only a win, but their first victory since 2010.

Kubricki's three field goals, the third from 34 yards out in overtime, helped Pinelands to a 16-13 comeback victory over Pt. Pleasant Boro in a Shore Conference game.

Kubricki said it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"It was a cool experience doing it in front of the home fans during our home opener," he said in a phone interview on Saturday. "The experience after, seeing a bunch of people run out on the field, was just awesome."

Kubricki added that once he took his steps, the nerves instantly went away. Wilkinson wasn't nervous at all either.

"There was never a doubt in my mind that when we went to overtime that Jon would get it done," said Wilkinson, who won his first game as the head coach of Pinelands. "We had a lot of faith in him."

The win came in front of a crowd that has supported the team through a tough time. Pinelands snapped a 23-game losing streak that dated all the way back to November 5, 2010.

"It was fantastic. The whole community was at that game," said senior quarterback Dan MacPhee. "After the game, people were crying and they stormed the field. The youth players were there as well. It was awesome."

It was also a special moment for the class of seniors, which included Dan and his twin brother, Matt.

The two used the special bond that's shared between twins late in the fourth quarter to tie the game up. Trailing 13-6, Dan hooked up with Matt on a 45-yard touchdown pass off of play-action fake to tie the game at 13-13. The score came with under four minutes to play in regulation.

"It seemed like instinct," Dan said. "I just saw him open and I saw the safety move out and (Matt) opened up on the seam and had a clear path to the end zone. It was one of the best moments in football that I've ever had."

The win served as the first win for the senior class in their varsity careers, including Dan, who has been the starting quarterback since his sophomore year.

"It means everything to me as well as the other seniors," he said. "It meant a lot to the whole school and the football team as well."

***

Wildwood's football season was in jeopardy a year removed from making its first trip to the playoffs.

Scrounging together enough kids to field a varsity team, the Warriors are now 1-1 after a tough 20-16 win over Riverside in a nonleague game Friday.

"Obviously you're always proud when your kids win, but with this year we didn't know we were going to have a team let alone win a game so that's extra special," head coach Rich Hans said in a phone interview on Saturday.

Almost everybody contributed in the win, including players switching positions through the game to keep Riverside off balance.

No one expected senior Jose Valentin to have the type of game he did for Wildwood. The linebacker and offensive guard rotated into the backfield and got to carry the ball 10 times.

He made the most of those carries, rushing for 174 yards and scoring on three touchdowns from 54, 30 and 58 yards. Valentin, who played fullback last season before moving to guard, said they were the first three touchdowns of his high school career.

"I told (coach Hans) that I'm going to help the team win the best that I can and it was just fundamental running," Valentin said, who ran mostly plays between the tackles all game.

"We tried to surprise them, and with me switching in from guard to the backfield to run plays, (it) surprised them. They couldn't stop it."

Contact John Russo:

609-272-7210

JRusso@pressofac.com

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