They say it’s better to be lucky than good.
Well, Alfredo “Junior” Marquez happens to be both.
The Coronado Dons senior is lucky he decided to give football a try a few years ago and good–as in, one of the better kickers in the state of Arizona…almost by accident.
Marquez’s first love was soccer. So much so he left Coronado the summer after his sophomore year to pursue a professional career in Mexico. It didn’t work out but his affinity for kicking balls through goal posts instead of nets certainly has. As a junior last fall the six-foot, 177-pounder connected on 38-40 PAT’s and nailed five of his six field goal attempts, including a 53-yard bomb at Casa Grande. Over half of his kickoffs last season were touchbacks.
“I came out here and Coach [Mike] Olson saw me and said…’you can be our kicker,'” Marquez said to Sports360AZ.com with a wry grin. “We came out and started hitting some. At first, I was a little off. I just started getting used to the ball…getting better and better.”
Marquez’s rapid progression is a product of his own hard work transitioning sports, as well as having a former NFL Pro Bowler as essentially his own personal kicking coach.
“To me there’s a mental aspect to kicking,” Coronado special teams coach and long-time NFL veteran Mike Vanderjagt explained to Sports360AZ.com. “There’s hundreds of kickers in America that can make 45-to-50-yard field goals but can you do it when the lights are on and it’s really crunch time? One thing about Junior is he loves that…he has a bit of a swagger to him and I think that’s important for a kicker.”
The well-liked Marquez has been a sponge soaking in kicking advice from Vanderjagt since the two met.
“Coach Vanderjagt came out here and started showing me step-by-step what I had to do to become a better kicker,” the powerful left-footer said. “He’s always supported me and always believed in me which is the most important thing.”
I look up to you coach thanxs for everything!🏈 he retired as the best nfl kicker but I’m next👌🏼😈 pic.twitter.com/Mo0RGaMeAg
— junior Marquez (@m34004994) December 17, 2015
Marquez is a busy young man juggling school, football and essentially a full-time job at a nearby Dairy Queen to help support his family. Through it all he does it with a smile on his face, while carrying himself with a suave, well-groomed look.
“He’s a real soft-spoken, works hard,” head coach Mike Olson said. “He’s a typical kid. He doesn’t cause any trouble.”
That likely won’t be the case this fall for Coronado’s opponents.