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STEVE HANLON: Gavit's Robert Robinson excited about kicking game

Gavit football coach Robert Robinson is very excited about freshman kicker Eric Rodriguez. In recent seasons the Gladiators have lost several close games because of missed extra points. Robinson said. Rodriguez is almost automatic.

Like at a lot of places, the numbers at Gavit are a little down this season. Coach Robert Robinson said he usually has 65-68 in camp, but this year he is in the low 50s.

But this digit is nothing he is concerned about.

"We have the right 50 on our team this year," Robinson said. "They're here every day. They work very hard. They are extremely committed. It's a great group of kids to be around every day."

On top of that, he has 17 seniors on the roster and that number is higher than in recent seasons.

"What's great about these seniors is most of them are three-year players," Robinson added. "The expectations are being met. The kids police themselves. It's a pretty special thing."

Of the "Right 50," there is one Gladiator that has Robinson sleeping better at night. Freshman Eric Rodriguez is the first true kicker that Gavit has had in awhile. He is almost automatic on extra points and he is making 40-yard field goals in practice.

"While Eric has played some soccer in the past, he is a football player," Robinson said. "He will play several positions for us. But I'm most excited about him kicking for us. That's the one area where we've needed help in the past."

BBQ at Boone Grove: Dan Kukulski had a very good season at Boone Grove last year. In his first season, the Wolves finished 8-4 and advanced to the championship game of a Class 2A sectional.

Kukulski said on Thursday the team is excited for another good run in 2018 with a lot of starters back. But by Thursday one thing was sure and it is something a lot of players at a lot of places are probably feeling.

"At this point these kids are so ready to go," Kukulski said. "They are tired of hitting each other every day. They want to hit somebody in a different-colored jersey."

Consequently, the Wolfpack Club, Boone's team mothers organization, hosted a barbecue on Thursday night for the players. Kukulski said it was a chance to celebrate the end of the two-a-day sessions and get ready for the start of the season.

Boone Grove will scrimmage at Kankakee Valley on Friday night.

Kukulski believes Mark Holder and Hayden Crook, both wide receivers and defensive backs, should have good seasons after spending a lot of snaps last year giving breaks to the starters.

"They got a lot of time on the field," he said. "I think that's going to help them this year when they're on the field a lot more."

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Sports Reporter

Steve has won awards during two different stints at The Times. In addition to being the Prep Beat columnist, he covers football, boys basketball and boys track. He is a long-suffering Cubs fan.