Spada embraces increased workload for Redhawks

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Southeast's punter will handle extra points and field goals, too.

Doug Spada was already slated to take on a much bigger role in his sophomore season at Southeast Missouri State.

It doesn't seem to phase the young man with the strong right leg that his workload will increase even more than originally anticipated.

Spada, at least for the early part of the season, will handle all of the Redhawks' kicking duties, including taking over for graduated all-American punter David Simonhoff.

His first test in his new roles will be one week from today, when the Redhawks open the season at Division I-A Cincinnati.

"I'm excited," Spada said Wednesday afternoon as the Redhawks practiced at Houck Stadium. "I'm really looking forward to it."

Spada spent his freshman season at Southeast last year as an understudy to Simonhoff, while also handling the Redhawks' kickoffs.

Spada knew all along he would replace Simonhoff as the Redhawks' punter and continue to kick off, along with attempting longer field goals.

What he didn't anticipate was beginning his sophomore campaign handling all of Southeast's field goals and extra points.

But that's the situation Spada found himself in when Colin Schermann, Southeast's place-kicker the last two seasons, suffered a skull fracture after falling off a ladder just before the start of fall practice.

Schermann, who has not yet started practicing, certainly will miss the season's first few games and there is no guarantee the Cape Girardeau Central High School graduate will return at all this year.

Enter Spada, who said he feels bad for Schermann but is ready to embrace his role as Southeast's only kicker and punter.

"I wish Colin well and I hope we have him back because he's a really good kicker," Spada said. "But my leg feels real good and strong, and I'm confident I'll be able to do it all."

Southeast coach Tony Samuel is also confident in Spada's abilities and doesn't anticipate any problems with him handling all of the Redhawks' kicking duties.

"He would have been our long field goal guy anyway, and he would have battled Colin for the job," Samuel said. "He's a great athlete and he's got a very strong leg. He's kicking real well and I have a lot of confidence in him."

Spada, a native of Shelby, N.C. -- a town of about 20,000 located less than an hour's drive from Charlotte -- kicked a 55-yard field goal in high school while also excelling in soccer and swimming.

He was recruited by the Redhawks as their punter of the future, which allowed him to spend plenty of time last year working with Simonhoff, a three-time all-American.

"I knew I was going to have some big shoes to fill, but he taught me a lot," Spada said. "We were close and still are. Working with him gave me a lot more confidence."

Spada did not begin his freshman season kicking off for the Redhawks, but quickly took over those duties and ended up leading the Ohio Valley Conference in touchbacks with 15 as he consistently booted balls into or out of the end zone.

Spada will face a new challenge in that area this year as the NCAA has moved kickoffs back five yards, from the 35-yard line to the 30.

"In warmer climates I think I'll still usually be able to get the ball into the end zone," Spada said. "But I'm sure it will make a difference. We'll do more directional stuff."

Spada attempted one long field goal last year and it was blocked. He also punted once, for 43 yards.

Spada, who in this year's spring game averaged nearly 42 yards per punt, said he enters the season more confident on punts than attempting field goals -- but he expects that to change.

"I knew I was going to take over [for Simonhoff], so I feel a lot more confident in that [punting] than any other aspect," he said. "I've struggled the past two scrimmages with my accuracy, but I feel it'll be there."

Spada, who appeared sharp during Wednesday's practice, said working the entire fall camp with holder Michael Williamson and deep snapper Andrew Bravo has made the trio a well-oiled unit.

Bravo, in fact, was recruited from junior college for the sole purpose of snapping on punts, field goals and extra points after the Redhawks had some problems in that area last year.

"He's my roommate, and having that kind of relationship outside of football really helps. He does a great job," Spada said of Bravo. "And he [Williamson] really takes his job as holder serious. He's really good.

"The three of us working well together is very important. It has definitely improved since last year."

The personable Spada said he realizes that many eyes will be on him as he attempts to handle all of the Redhawks' kicking duties.

But other than perhaps a few extra whirlpool or massage sessions, Spada doesn't envision any inconveniences.

"I've had to take care of my body more because my leg is getting more of a workout. I'm in the training room more because I'll have to do it all," he said. "But I feel real good and I'm ready to go."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: