Former Dallas kicker Boniol helps youngsters
By James Fremont
The Daily News Published June 19, 2005
LA MARQUE — The difference between a close win and a close loss in football isn’t always in the hands of the biggest and strongest men on the field.
It sometimes comes down to who has the sharpest leg and the clearest mind.
Former Dallas Cowboys kicker Chris Boniol’s annual kicking camp returned to Galveston County for the fourth year, this time setting up at La Marque High School after three years at Texas City.
Taylor Wilkins, the senior kicker at La Marque, and 21 other youngsters from Texas and Louisiana made the trip to work on the physical and mental aspects of kicking.
Wilkins, who walked directly onto the Cougars varsity team in the middle of the 2002 season as a freshman, has college football on his mind.
“I just got back from a weeklong camp two weeks ago,” Wilkins said. “I’m a little tired … but I need to get my leg stronger. If I can get more distance on kickoffs, I’ll be set.”
Wilkins said Rice and Sam Houston State have expressed interest in his placekicking services after he caps a career at La Marque that includes a Division II-4A state championship.
Boniol, whose seven field goals in a Monday night game against Green Bay in 1996 resulted in a 21-6 Cowboys victory and a share of the NFL’s single-game field goal record, also helped Dallas to a Super Bowl victory following the 1995 season.
Retired from the game since a stint with the Chicago Bears in 1999, Boniol is helping young kickers.
“I tell them to call, e-mail, anything,” Boniol said. “It’s a service I do with coming to the camps. It’s not where I see them once a year and send them a brochure in the spring. I want to develop these kids and develop a relationship. That’s how I build these camps.”
Boniol hits the road for camps in the summer, but is accessible during the fall. He expects to receive a few calls or messages from a struggling high school kicker.
“I usually hear from guys who are trying to put out a fire,” he said. “Sometimes they just need a little reassurance.”
The two-day camp covered placekicking Saturday and will work on punting today. Wilkins and up to 14 campers will be back this morning for the session.
Registration remains open for the punt camp, but Boniol, who occasionally handled punting duties for the Cowboys, said his camp is not designed to be an introductory course.
“It’s not for kids who just want to come and see what it’s about,” Boniol said. “Sometimes we get some soccer players who might be a little undersized but want to play football. They might think kicking or punting is a way they can contribute. That’s just fine, but as long as they know this is a serious camp and it’s a long, intense day.”