MAACO Bowl roundup hed
LAS VEGAS — In the final football game of his career, Boise State senior kicker Michael Frisina finally got the chance he’d been waiting for forever.
One kick. Game on the line. Win or lose.
“I’ve seen a lot of my friends growing up through the years that I’ve known from kicking get game-winning opportunities. Man, I wonder what that would be like?” Frisina said.
“That must be awesome.” That’s not the word Boise State fans would use. Given the cruel, cruel memories of misses past dread would be a more apt description. Missed field goals are scars carried by the Broncos.
Frisina didn’t attempt those wayward kicks against Nevada in 2010 and TCU in 2011.
He wanted the chance, though.
Never — not on the freshman team or the junior varsity team, not on the varsity team at Brea Olinda High in California or at Saddleback Junior College, not in his two-year career at Boise State — had Frisina been called upon to win a game.
“It’s every kicker’s dream to hit a game-winning field goal,” he said.
He almost didn’t get a chance to dream that dream. The 5-foot-5 Frisina — mistaken for a band member by a professor earlier this year – wasn’t allowed to play tackle football as a child. His parents feared for his safety. They finally relented in high school, figuring his career would be a brief one.
“They thought it would wear off because I’d never played before,” he said.
Instead, the former soccer player was attracted immediately to the kickers.
“I loved kicking a ball,” said Frisina, who also played quarterback.
He was pretty good at it, too. Frisina earned all-league honors in high school and junior college. He walked on at Boise State, one of the top programs in the country, albeit one with kicking problems.
“A lot of the fans … have a kicking-at-the-last-minute-of-the-game sour taste in their mouth,” senior wide receiver Chris Potter said.
In the final minutes of Saturday’s MAACO Bowl Las Vegas, with Boise State trailing Washington 26-25, it became clear that Frisina might get his chance. He made two field goals earlier in the game, including a 34-yarder — Boise State’s longest field goal since Nov. 19, 2010, the game before Nevada.
But this one, one coach Chris Petersen had told him earlier this week might be coming against the Huskies, was for the lead. Likely for the game from the right hash, his preferred placement.
Frisina kept his routine. He kicked balls into the net. Teammates encouraged him. The butterflies grew.
“Are there butterflies? Sure. If there’s not, then there’s something wrong with you,” he said.
He tuned everything out. He walked on the field, deeper than the 27-yard field goal and then walked toward his spot. “That way when you look at the goal posts it’s almost like they’re getting bigger even though they’re not,” Frisina said. “You’ve got to do little things like that to make the kick easier for yourself.”
He took two deep breaths to calm himself down and trusted his technique. He kicked it good with 1 minute, 16 seconds left.
“I knew I made it right when I hit it. I don’t know where it ended up. I just knew it went through the goalposts – that’s all that matters,” Frisina said. “… The only way I think it would have been better is if there was no time on the clock.” Instead, Washington still had time. But Boise State safety Jeremy Ioane sealed the game with an interception. Frisina was the hero.
“I had no worries,” center Matt Paradis said.
“This guy right here came out, ice in his veins and knocked it through,” quarterback Joe Southwick said.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of Michael. Such a good character. And he never gets flustered. For him to end his career at Boise State like that, you couldn’t have asked for a better ending,” wide receiver Matt Miller said.
When it was over, his teammates hoisted him on their shoulders.
“They love me and I love them. That was their way of showing their appreciation,” Frisina said. “It’s just a great feeling. I can’t describe it.”
Frisina, a decorated scholar-athlete in high school and junior college, will graduate in May with a degree in communication. He plans to look for work back home in California or, perhaps, in Boise.
He shouldn’t have to buy his own beer in town, not after finally getting that game winner, not after breaking the Broncos’ kicker curse, not after healing those lingering scars.
“I don’t drink,” Frisina said. “So if someone wants to buy me a beer, I’ll be like you can make that a lemonade or something.”