Friday Night Hero: Salisbury’s Frankie Cardelle
By Nick Bowton
Frankie Cardelle took the field for Salisbury last season kind of the way Adam Sandler hit the golf course early in “Happy Gilmore” ó he went out there and whacked the ball as far as he could.
Cardelle still kicks the ball far. But now he’s got that accuracy thing down too.
After spending the summer at kicking camps, Cardelle proved in Salisbury’s season-opening victory against South Rowan that he’ll be a huge asset for the Hornets this season. As polished as he’s ever been as a kicker, Cardelle sent all four of his kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks. He also pinned South inside its 20-yard line on three of his four punts.
Oh, and he provided what proved to the be the deciding points on a 39-yard field goal. Salisbury won 16-14.
“I realized that in football, especially in high school, kicking can be so important,” said Cardelle, who still doubles as the soccer team’s starting goalkeeper. “I have to perform, just do my job. If I kick a touchback, that saves my teammates running down the field.
“They look for me to do that, so I gotta do what they want me to do.”
Cardelle’s realization that he’s a vital part of the football team helped him want to transform his technique over the summer.
At a camp at Appalachian State, he learned from kick-coaching guru Carol White, who has also conducted camps at Virginia Tech, Mississippi, Coastal Carolina and Central Florida.
Cardelle learned that kicking is all in the hips, that strength comes from the lower back and buttocks, that cutting out a few steps on kickoffs actually creates more power. He learned that you don’t want to practice long field goals because bad habits are more likely to creep in, “Like swinging for the fences every time in baseball.”
While some high schools struggle to find a guy who can make an extra point, Salisbury now has a kicker it can strategically use as a weapon.
“Two years ago when we played West Rowan and lost 23-16, the difference in that game wasn’t a K.P. Parks or a Dario Hamilton or anything like that,” Salisbury coach Joe Pinyan said. “The difference in that game was Ben Erdman. Ben kept punting it down there close and kept kicking the ball in the end zone, and we had to start at the 20, which made life miserable for us.
“I don’t want to be on the other side and have to drive 80 yards every time. That’s what (Cardelle) makes you do.”
He also makes Pinyan make tough decisions.
Cardelle said the longest field goal he’s made in practice is 63 yards and that he can make 55-yarders “pretty consistently.” Most high school coaches wouldn’t have to decide between a 50-yard field goal or a punt.
As big of a bonus as Cardelle is, he wasn’t flawless in his season debut. He missed his second extra point and then shanked his first punt. Pinyan told him when he came off the field, “Frank, you’re in a position where you can’t make a mistake. You’re like a quarterback. You cannot make a mistake.”
Cardelle seems to embrace that pressure, and Salisbury should continue to benefit because of it.
“When you play a game, you got three phases: offense, defense and kicking game,” Pinyan said. “We go into every game feeling like we’re trying to win one of two instead of two of three.”