CARLSBAD, Calif. – Former Chargers kicker John Carney is developing some of the best young legs in the area.
This past weekend, the 21-year NFL veteran Carney hosted The Alpha, a competition to determine the best kickers and punters in Southern California. Ultimately crowned were eight of the region’s top special teams players, including representatives from Torrey Pines, Cathedral Catholic and La Jolla high schools, among others.
It’s important work for Carney, who played 11 seasons for the Chargers and remains the franchise’s all-time leading scorer.
He said kickers and punters have the opportunity to control field position and scoring, critical components for any team, particularly with the game on the line.
“What they do on the field — although they may not be on the field a lot during the course of the game — is extremely beneficial to the outcome of the game,” Carney said.
Through his career spanning parts of four different decades, Carney made 82.4% of his field goals and missed only 10 extra points. He made the Pro Bowl twice and was a member of the New Orleans Saints when they defeated the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.
Carney also was the kicker on the 1994 Chargers team who lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the franchise’s lone Super Bowl appearance.
“A lot of kickers and a lot of players come out of California, especially down in our area,” said Ian Hawkins, a senior at Cathedral Catholic. “For him to put this on down in our area is great for us.”
The weekend’s winners included:
- Joey Cheek, Cathedral Catholic (All Southern California Alpha Kicker);
- Devin Bale, La Jolla (All Southern California Alpha Punter);
- Gabe Panikowski, Torrey Pines (San Diego Alpha Kicker and San Diego Alpha Punter, upperclassmen);
- Hunter Provience, Christian (San Diego Alpha Kicker, underclassman);
- Matt Davila, Cathedral Catholic (San Diego Alpha Punter, underclassman);
- Denis Lynch, Newbury Park (LA/Orange County Alpha Kicker); and
- Luke Silva, Salinas (LA/Orange County Alpha Punter).