ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine football team’s place-kicking woes in 2016 are well documented.
The Black Bears converted only one of their seven field-goal attempts, easily the worst percentage (14.3 percent) in the Colonial Athletic Association. Stony Brook was 11th in the 12-team conference at 50 percent (3-for-6). Every other team kicked at least five field goals.
UMaine was also 11th in extra points at 28-for-31. Only Villanova (36-for-41) was worse.
So UMaine head coach Joe Harasymiak and his assistants brought in a scholarship kicker in Kenny Doak and he is ready for the challenge.
Doak will handle field goals and extra points, Saco junior Brandon Briggs will do the kickoffs and sophomore Derek Deoul will be the punter.
“This is a great opportunity for me,” said Doak, a native of Perkasie, Pennsylvania. “I’m really excited. I just want to help the team out, honestly. I think we can do some real good things this year.”
Kickers can be under immense pressure but Doak downplayed it.
“I just want to perform for my coaches and, more importantly, for my teammates. They’re trusting me in the red zone (inside the 20-yard line) to put points on the board. I’m 100 percent confident,” said Doak.
He also has confidence in senior holder Spencer Carey of Fairfield and freshman snapper Bryce Colee.
“We’ve been taking very effective reps in practice and we’ve been clicking on all cylinders,” said Doak, who converted nine of 12 field-goal attempts during his sophomore year at Central Bucks High School West.
“He looks good,” said sophomore running back Josh Mack. “He’s going to be a great asset. It’s something we need. A lot of games are decided by three points like the UConn game and the New Hampshire game last year (24-21 losses). Having somebody being able to kick field goals takes the pressure off the offense.”
“He’s been doing a good job. I have a lot of faith in Kenny,” said senior offensive tackle Jamil Demby.
“He’s solid,” said senior cornerback Najee Goode.
Doak started kicking in seventh grade, when he handled kickoffs.
“It was something I always wanted to pursue and I ended up liking it. I really enjoyed kicking in seventh and eighth grade. I really wanted to kick a field goal because our coach wouldn’t let us,” explained Doak, who began kicking field goals in ninth grade.
Doak is a fan of former New England Patriots and current Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri and Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker and would go online to watch YouTube videos on kicking.
“And I would go out and kick in my back field and it kind of grew from there,” said Doak, who added that he has always done well on extra points.
He has attended Luke Gaddis One-on-One kicking camps and was a nationally-ranked five-star ranked kicker buy Kohl’s Kicking Camp. He was a three-time, all-league selection in high school and a two-time special teams player of the year.
He kicked a 47-yard field goal during training camp this summer and said he “made it by 10 yards.”
He decided to attend UMaine because “there was a family atmosphere and the coaches are great. They tell you straight up how it is. And I have the opportunity to play right away. Obviously you have to earn it. It’s not given.”
“The kicking game has to be better than it was last year,” said Harasymiak. “We have confidence in Kenny. We have to improve because that drastically hurt us in a lot of games. We emphasized that in recruiting.”
Doak is looking forward to Thursday’s opener at the University of New Hampshire.
“UNH games have always been close. It should be interesting. I’m really excited for the opportunity,” said Doak.