Ninth and final in a series of stories profiling top high school football players by position. Today, Ryon Sayeri, Chaminade kicker.
There was a day in March that Southern Californians won’t soon forget. There was rain, wind, lightning and tornadoes in Carpinteria and Montebello. Meanwhile, in West Hills, Ryon Sayeri of Chaminade High was doing what kickers do — embrace the elements.
He stood in the middle of Chaminade’s blue turf field amid a downpour practicing field goals.
“It was even hailing a little bit,” he said.
So what in the name of common sense was he doing?
“My dad was telling me anywhere you go, it’s going to be raining, so I have to get used to rain,” Sayeri said.
Girls’ lacrosse practice was going on, so Sayeri asked if he could use the field. He and another kicker went to work.
“I was using my bad balls because when you’re hitting in the rain, they get messed up and water logged,” he said. “I brought out my good batch and started hitting. We were hitting good balls in the rain and started backing up and backing up. I was hitting 60 yarders in the rain, and it was a good feeling.”
There’s no telling how far Sayeri might kick a ball this season. He has his sights on the state record of 64 yards for a field goal set by Erik Affholter of Oak Park in 1982. Sayeri made 13 of 16 field-goal attempts last season, all 50 conversion kicks while averaging 49 yards on punts. His long field goal was 55 yards.
“He reminds me he wants to kick it pretty often,” Chaminade coach David Machuca said. “I’m hopeful. I can’t make a promise. If it’s the right time, we’re going to give him a shot.”
The chance to try a 65-yard field goal might need to happen at the end of the first half, because the ball would have to be snapped from the other team’s 48-yard line, and a miss would give the opponent very good field position. The good news is that Chaminade’s long snapper, Hayden Morse, returns, as does holder, Alessandro Garrett.
Sayeri is preparing to make it an easy decision for Machuca.
“I’m trying to become perfect from 65 yards and in, so when I have the chance to hit it, I will,” he said.
The 55-yard field goal he made against Encino Crespi gave him insight.
“I didn’t swing 100 percent,” he said. “I was thinking smash it, but if you hit 80 percent it will go far. I will pretend it’s the same kick from 30 yards.”
Sayeri, 6 feet 1 and 170 pounds, has been playing soccer since he was 4. He started kicking footballs in high school. His work ethic and love of kicking motivates him to improve.
“When you look at me, I don’t look like I can hit the ball far,” he said. “My legs aren’t the biggest. It’s the leg speed for me. When I hit it, it pops.”
Now he’s ready to deliver field goals, punts and kickoffs in whatever weather he faces thanks to his experience last March.
“Oh, I was cold,” he said. “It’s always good to practice in the rain because in Cali, this weather is perfect. When it’s not perfect, you have to take advantage.”
That’s a change in thinking for Sayeri.
Machuca said, “I made a joke to him about Penn State recruiting him. ‘I have to go somewhere warm.’ Now it’s, ‘I’ll go anywhere.’”