The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
Offensive linemen can sometimes feel like fans and sports writers always forget how hard their job is and how important they are to the team.
Kickers like Port Arthur Memorial’s Ricardo Estupinan can sometimes say the exact same thing.
Titans Coach Kenny Harrison knows exactly how important Estupinan’s foot is to the team. It is why Estupinan has been the Titans kicker for the past three years.
It is why Harrison will miss Estupinan once he graduates this May, even though the kicker has a younger brother waiting in the wings.
Estupinan has kicked three field goals this year for Memorial. His accolades do not stop on making sure the Titans come away with three points.
Harrison also can count on Estupinan to average nearly 48 yards a punt, and to place punts at almost any angle the Titans coach calls for in a huddle.
“He has some big time plays for us,” Harrison said. “He can also come up huge for us on kickoffs. If our opponent has a legitimate return man, he has the ability to kick the ball out the back of the endzone. That can come up big. I’d much rather see a team start at the 20 than seeing the back of the return man’s jersey as he is running to score.”
Estupinan came to the Titans after a coach asked him to play football while he was a freshman soccer player. The starting spot was Estupinan’s once he became a sophomore.
Estupinan’s sophomore season saw the Titans reach the semifinals and set the tone for one of the kicker’s main goals for his senior year.
“That year was great when we reached the semifinals,” Estupinan said. “We were only one game away from reaching the championship. We want to go back and bring a title home to Port Arthur.”
Another goal for Estupinan is to have the opportunity to play college football. To do that, Estupinan must break another stereo type against kickers.
“I practice every day and take practice very serious,” Estupinan said. “I work on extra points, field goals, punts and kickoffs. I make sure to put in my time. I practice to make sure I am ready for my team when I am needed and also to give myself a shot at playing college ball.”
Estupinan’s experience over three years has helped him become the type of kicker who can soon forget a missed field goal.
The perfect example is how Estupinan missed a field goal near the end of regulation against Houston Bellaire which allowed the Cardinals to leave Memorial Stadium with a victory. Estupinan proved he had a short memory when it came to mistakes and kicked two fields this past Friday against Deer Park. He was a big part of the reason the Titans are 1-0 in District 21-3A play.
“The miss just happened,” Estupinan said. “I wasn’t nervous at all. It had been raining that day and a little during the game. I thought I had made the kick but then it went right. I realize everyone makes mistakes. I practiced hard the next week to correct that mistake.”
Harrison said his confidence in Estupinan has never faltered. He knows he has a secret weapon in his pocket who has boomed a 60-yard field goal in practice.
“There are three phases to a game and with Estupinan we always feel we can win the special teams game,” Harrison said. “He knows how much we need him to be successful this year. He has done a tremendous job since day one as a sophomore. He has such a strong leg and we value his service on our team.”
Titans Tidbits: Ricardo Estupinan is the son of Raul Estupinan and Leticia Quijano…Estupinan wants to continue kicking at the college level and has one offer on the table from Prairie View A&M. He reported Lamar University has looked at him but has not made a scholarship offer…Estupinan’s favorite team in the NFL is the Houston Texans. His favorite player in the league though is not a kicker. Estupinan is a fan of Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt.