Those who stood on Bishop O’Connell’s field during a mid-September practice were granted a lapse in focus.
The Knights had established a precedent. When senior Tyler Fontenot got into his stance, you stopped, you turned, and you watched.
“I mean, he’s a five-star,” senior long snapper Kellen McConnell said.
“He makes such a difference,” senior quarterback Jonathan Nguyen said.
“Bro’s got a massive leg,” another teammate offered.
Fontenot, though, isn’t just a top recruit; he’s a five-star at two positions, one of just 12 seniors in the country with that distinction as both a kicker and a punter. He says he has hit a field goal from 67 yards in practice. And he’s more than just a big leg; he’s an alchemist at the position, which became indisputably evident when he slipped into his kicking routine, walked three steps back and two paces to his left, shimmied his shoulders, checked a flag for wind and pondered a dozen other pre-kick adjustments.
The football field was occupied for the afternoon, which meant Fontenot needed to find a spot somewhere on the Knights’ baseball field to aim the ball. His choice: a vertical bar at the center of the backstop, less than a foot wide and about 50 yards away.
He missed it by six inches.
Still, it wasn’t quite his reputation, nor the thwack off his right foot, that made it permissible to stop and gawk in the middle of practice.