For the past 18 years, Diamont’s plate has read “gofortwo,” meaning the coach has preferred the two-point conversion to bringing in the kicker. Diamont put it bluntly when explaining how Padron has changed his mind.
“He’s the best (kicker) we’ve had at East Surry,” he said.
The senior has kicked 32 extra points and five field goals, good for 47 total points through the regular season. His longest boot was a 44-yarder against North Surry.
But Padron isn’t just an important member of the football team. He was also a bright spot on the Cardinals’ soccer team that reached the NCHSAA playoffs this fall. For most of the season Padron, who is also the senior class president, was juggling responsibilities. After soccer practice, he would rush to the football stadium to work on his kicks. Oftentimes he would get there after the team had left and work by himself. Padron also attended a clinic held by acclaimed kicking coach Carol White.
“It was quite an experience,” Padron said of his busy fall schedule. “I would just usually go to the stadium and practice extra points and field goals from the hashes and middle and even from the sideline. I would work on kickoffs and squibs, just everything.”
Padron also hit the weights when he had free time. His dedication earned the respect of his teammates and coaches from both sports.
“He’s just self-made,” Diamont said. “He picked it up and works at it on his own. He could play a position; He has enough athletic ability and strength.”
The skills Padron has worked on make him a valuable weapon for the Cardinals (10-1), who host East Wilkes (7-4) Friday night at 7:30 p.m. For starters, Diamont has no issues with extra-point attempts. If the Cardinals work a drive to within Padron’s range, expect to see him out there instead of risking a fourth-down turnover. On kickoffs, Padron can angle the ball towards weaker returners.
On said kickoffs, Padron has instilled his own twist on the pre-kick chant. Instead of the traditional “Ready, ready kill” chant, there is a Spanish translation of “Listos, listos, muertos.”
“We started doing that last year,” Padron said. “Most of my friends were in Spanish class with me. They thought it would be funny to change it.”
While Padron is certain he would like to attend a four-year school next year, he wasn’t so sure about what sport he would like to play if the opportunity arises.
“That’s a really tough one,” he said. “Soccer has been my No. 1 sport since I was 5 and I always played it. But once I joined the football team I really enjoyed the atmosphere. I’d really like to play both. Whichever one I have more opportunity in, I’d do that one.”
Once Padron is gone next season, the Cardinals will not have to fret. Jorge’s younger brother, Damian, is a junior waiting to take over for his older brother next season.
“He wants to learn everything I do,” Jorge said. “He looks up to me, so I try to teach him the right form and what to do to be successful and be better than me. We both have a great time doing it together.”
If Damian can mimic Jorge’s success, don’t be surprised if Diamont is cruising around with a new license plate.
Contact Ed Phillipps at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1921.