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Standing at 6-foot-1 and weighing 260 pounds, Southeast Whitfield High School's Luis Laguna admits he doesn't look like a prototypical placekicker.
Think more lumberjack and less Josef Martinez.
But looks don't tell the story and know that kicking is just one of the ways Laguna will make a big impact on this year's season and the fortunes of the Raiders. In addition to his kickoff and extra point duties, Laguna is the starting tackle on the offensive line and has seen snaps on the defensive line as well.
"He's a solid athlete all the way around," Southeast coach Sean Gray said. "We will use him in a variety of ways. But he's a great kicker and is truly a weapon on special teams."
The Raiders will need all the weapons they can get as they try to turn around a season which has begun with two straight losses to open the year. Southeast travels to county rival Coahulla Creek tonight. The Colts are also winless on the year after losing their season opener to Northwest Whitfield two weeks ago.
In order to turn things around, Gray said his young team will need to lean on seniors like Laguna, who is a two-year starter on the line and has been the starting kicker since his sophomore year.
"He has been a great leader for us," Gray said. "He doesn't complain and does everything we ask for. He is a great leader by example. We've talked to the team about staying positive and coming together. Every season, you have to find out the character of your team. After two games we have now figured out what we can do well and what we need to adjust. We have to put those things in place on Friday night, and players like Luis have to help us do that."
For his part, Laguna said the team is adjusting to the growing pains and the mistakes which come with having so many younger starters this year. He also said the team knows that the first four games of the season before region play begins matter very little in the grand scheme of the season.
"My goal this season is to have a winning season and be better than last year," said Laguna, who saw his team go 3-7 last season. "The goal is to make the playoffs and I feel like we can grow into that. Everyone has to work harder and grow into their role. Some of the younger guys need to step up and gain confidence. They have to come to play and not be scared."
Laguna started at guard the first two games but has moved to tackle after Freddy Ambriz suffered a tear of his medial collateral ligament in his knee. With the move, the Raiders have a senior heavy side of the line with Laguna next to guard Bryson Waters.
"Last year, I played that position, too, so I am use to it," Laguna said. "I feel like Bryson and I are a good team, but we have to communicate more with each other. The whole o-line has to communicate better."
Despite losing Ambriz to injury, Gray likes the pairing.
"Offensively, he has experience and he is a big, physical kid and we have two seniors on the right side of the line which is good," Gray said. "We will be leaning heavily on them because they will be making the blocks to keep our drives going."