TORRINGTON >> With Torrington marching down the field against Sacred Heart on Friday night, Red Raiders kicker PJ Killmartin was standing right next to head coach Gaitan Rodriguez, eager and ready to be called on to kick a field goal.
“He is always near me when we cross the 40-yard line,” said Rodriguez. “He’s our secret weapon.”
When the Red Raiders’ drive stalled, Killmartin ran out onto the field and drilled a 29-yard field goal that would have been good from over 40-yards, as it sailed over the Torrington band sitting behind the goal posts.
“I looked and saw that it was good, so I turned around,” said Killmartin.
That’s Killmartin, he doesn’t need to see how far he kicked it; he just needs to see if it was good or not.
“It’s a great thing to have, to know that if you get the ball to a certain area you can come away with points,” said Rodriguez.
So far this season Killmartin is 26-27 on extra points and has only made two field goals this season, one from 30-yards and one from 35-yards.
The numbers aren’t bad for a junior who never kicked before trying out his freshman year.
“I stopped playing soccer and I wanted to be a kicker and I saw they needed a kicker,” he said.
He’s hasn’t looked back, starting for the Red Raiders since.
“He’s committed, kicking is a skill and we’re lucky to have him,” said Rodriguez.
Killmartin doesn’t take days off.
“I come here (Torrington High School) on the weekends to practice kicking,” said Killmartin.
With only three years of experience under his belt, Killmartin isn’t fazed by the noise from the fans or the opponents running right towards him.
“I block out the sound and worry about my technique,” said Killmartin. “I tune everything out and I know they aren’t going to get through to me because of my line.”
Unlike most other kickers in high school football, Killmartin does not play another position for the Red Raiders.
“He’s a good athlete,” said Rodriguez. “His primary love is kicking.”
This past offseason, Killmartin went up Massachusetts to a kicking camp that is run by Chris Sailer, who was a two-time All-American at UCLA and has coached multiple NFL kickers, including Nick Folk of the New York Jets. This winter he will be going to camp again.
Killmartin hopes to continue his kicking career at the college level.
“It’s a great luxury to have,” said Rodriguez. “You know you’re going to get points.”