HOBART | It was a strange occurrence. On a wet, muddy, slip-and-slide gridiron last Friday, Hobart's Aaron Del Grosso lined up to attempt a 50-yard field goal.
But in the Class 4A Sectional 10 opener at Kankakee Valley, a Kougar jumped off side, and Hobart gained five yards. The fans in purple cheered.
But not everyone was happy with the call.
"I was mad," Del Grosso said. "I wanted to kick a 50-yarder."
Of course, he nailed the 45-yarder in the Brickies' 38-0 win. He hopes to do the same Friday night when Mishawaka comes to town for a sectional semifinal.
Del Grosso's kickoffs were so deep in Wheatfield that K.V. coach Brad Stewart gave him praise after the game.
"It's really difficult when you're starting on the 20 all the time," Stewart said. "It changes field position, and field position wins games. He has an incredibly strong leg."
Del Grosso has 61 kickoffs this season with a 57.3 average. He is 16-of-20 in field goals, with two 50-yarders without a miss. He is 38-of-38 on extra points.
And just for giggles, he has 24 punts with a 39.8 average.
That's why Indiana University invited him to Bloomington to watch the Ohio State game recently.
Having former Brickie and IU great Bill Manolopoulos as your kicking coach surely doesn't hurt.
"I'm always looking at the sweet spot," Del Grosso said. "Coach Mono tells me to look at the sweet spot the whole way through. The sweet spot is the middle of the ball, right under. I'm looking at that the whole time through."
Hobart coach Ryan Turley loves No. 90, who has kicked 85 percent of his kickoffs into the end zone.
"He's definitely been a difference maker," Turley said. "I don't ever remember a kicker having such an impact on the outcome of a game. I'm proud of his work ethic. He's been a good team leader."
Del Grosso wasn't with the football team very often his freshman and sophomore seasons. Soccer practice came first, then he would boot a couple footballs when he could steal a couple of seconds.
He gave up soccer after the 10th grade, and his gridiron success has gone right through the uprights.
Hobart hasn't won a sectional championship since 1997. The football crazy community is hungry to win the program's 20th sectional crown in its history.
Mishawka, however, is very good. The Bricks have a new motivation this week in preparation. It's not the time-tested one of old, "All my life, I want to be a Brickie — work, work, work."
"Our motto is 'Be a Caveman,'" Del Grosso said of Mishawaka's nickname. "When we practice, 'Be a Caveman.' When we block, 'Be a Caveman.' When I kick, 'Be a Caveman.'
"What helped us beat K.V. last week was how hard we prepared and practiced during the week. It was our best week of the year. And it's been way above that this week. We want to win this for a lot of reasons."