While the performances of Kansas State seniors, quarterback Collin Klein and linebacker Arthur Brown, are making national headlines these days, the Wildcats have another senior who has been equally as consistent.
Making 11 of his 12 attempts this season, Anthony Cantele leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage, with a long of 42 yards against West Virginia.
“Having a year under my belt and being more experienced, I think that was a huge advantage for me,” Cantele said this week. “I missed some kicks last year that I definitely shouldn’t have missed and I took that to heart and focused on that and I think that’s benefited me this year.”
Cantele makes up just part of the special teams kickers who have excelled this season, as senior punter Ryan Doerr has been spot on, averaging nearly 40 yards per punt and pinning eight of his 18 kicks inside the opponents’ 20-yard line. All five of his punts at Oklahoma were placed inside the 20, earning him Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week.
If anyone understands what Cantele goes through as a pass-fail player on the field, called on in crucial situations, it’s Doerr.
“He’s done great for us,” said Doerr, who is also Cantele’s roommate. “He’s one of the top kickers in the country, I believe, and he’s got great accuracy and consistency.
“I think he’s only missed one field goal this year, and I know if he had that back he’d make it nine times out of 10.”
On Saturday, Cantele will go opposite another one of the Big 12’s best kickers in Oklahoma State’s Quinn Sharp, who has made 15-of-20 kicks with a long of 51 yards.
And though Cantele doesn’t have as many made kicks, the ones he’s made have been big for the Wildcats this season.
The Wichita native, and former soccer player, made all three field goals in the first half against Missouri State to give K-State a 9-6 halftime lead. His 23-yard field goal at Oklahoma gave the Wildcats their first lead of the game.
And then at Iowa State, Cantele came through from 41 and 25 yards out, helping the Wildcats to a 27-21 victory.
“My goal, as an individual player, is to just be consistent like I have been and keep going like I have,” said Cantele, who is eighth in school history with 29 career field goals. “I read about kickers all the time, and I’ve seen kickers on a couple of occasions make their first 10 field goals of the season and then they miss like five out of six. So my goal is to be consistent.”
He’s been that, even making all 46 extra-point attempts this season. Cantele is 2-for-2 inside 19 yards this year, 5-for-5 from 20-29 yards and 2-for-2 from 40-49. His lone miss was a 38-yarder against Miami.
Cantele’s career long is 54 yards against Oklahoma last season. So just how far is Cantele’s range?
“I’ve had a couple that were about 65 that would have been long enough,” Cantele said. “Coach Snyder was like, ‘if you just make one of them, I’d give you the chance.’ But we’re at the point in the season where you don’t want to take that risk with giving a good team that field position if I do miss.”
Although, with a stiff wind, don’t be surprised if Cantele gets the shot sometime this season. After all, if anyone knows how to play the wind, its got to be a kicker from Kansas.
“We deal with that every day in practice, so it’s nothing,” Cantele said. “I always enjoy it when I see kids from, like California come down here and it’s not even that windy to me, and they’re like, ‘wow, how do you deal with this?’ I guess it’s a huge advantage.”
But if Cantele had his way, he may not ever kick a field goal, because after all, that means the Wildcats’ offense is moving and scoring touchdowns. Nobody wants to settle for a field goal when you can get seven, right?
Cantele is perfectly content booting kicks deep into end zones following touchdowns.
“I always feel it Sundays,” Cantele said, “and Mondays especially. Mondays I’m always just really tired. I kicked off, I think 10 times (last week), which is more than I kick off in an entire week at practice, so it’s definitely exhausting, but it’s fun too.”