DUNLAP, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — The son of a soccer coach, Nick Cenek says he’s played his favorite sport since he was four or five years old.
Soccer is his first love. Cenek has never played football.
Until this spring.
“A couple of football players were talking to me and said we didn’t have a kicker,” Cenek said. “I thought I might as well do it. I texted coach (Brett Cazalet) and he said’ ‘we have a spot for you’.”
So this year the senior is the leading scorer on Dunlap’s soccer team. And he’s a rookie placekicker for the Eagles football team.
“One of my goals for Nick this year to to have fun, make memories, have fun, let’s enjoy this,” said Dunlap soccer coach Allan Hansen. “When you look back I want your memories to all be positive.”
Cenek started practicing his football kicking in the fall. He was pretty confident he’d figure out the nuances behind kickoffs, field goals and extra points.
What he wasn’t so sure about was whether he’d ever have to make a tackle. As fate would have it, in his first game of the year, he was forced to make a play.
“Before the season, they said you won’t have to make a tackle, the return team will do it for you,” Cenek said with a laugh. “But I was the last man back and I was forced to save a touchdown.”
He made an open field tackle in the season opener against Pekin. And then had to make a similar tackle in the second game of the year at Washington.
“He’s made two touchdown-saving tackles in two games,” said Eagles football coach Brett Cazalet. “I told him initially, you’ll never have to make a tackle. I think that’s a credit to him and his athleticism.”
He was greeted at the sideline with an ovation by his football teammates after he made that first tackle.
“I got a bunch of hype after that,” said Cenek. “I felt like I was part of the team after that.”
Cenek is a big part of two Dunlap teams this spring. His soccer team is undefeated through ten games and his football team is 2-1.
And he’s getting a kick out of every minute of it.