All positive thinking for KSU’s Cantele during game-winning kick
By ARNE GREEN
By ARNE GREEN
Special to The Telegram
MANHATTAN — Jack Cantele is not impervious to negative thoughts.
He just knows that they have a time and a place.
Fortunately for Cantele, that did not include last Saturday at Snyder Family Stadium, where his 41-yard field goal with three seconds left gave the Kansas State Wildcats a dramatic 33-31 victory over Texas Christian.
“I didn’t think about the negative side of it until Sunday,” said Cantele, who began preparing mentally from the moment TCU kicker Jaden Oberkrom put the Horned Frogs in front on a 56-yarder with 2:13 on the clock. “It was like, ‘Oh, wow.’
“Somebody asked, ‘It would have killed you if you had missed that, right?’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, I didn’t think about that.’ I’m pretty confident and I’m glad I’m able to only think about the positive side.”
It was the first career game-winner for Cantele, a sophomore from Wichita’s Kapaun-Mt. Carmel High School. But he insisted he was ready to go from the moment TCU took the lead.
“I was just glad I got the opportunity, because that’s every kicker’s dream to be able to do that,” he said. “I couldn’t have been more accepting of the situation.
“I couldn’t have wanted it more and there was absolutely no fear.”
Ditto for holder Mark Krause, also the Wildcats’ punter.
“Me and Jack were the most relaxed I’ve ever seen us,” said Krause, a junior, who along with Cantele and senior long snapper Marcus Heit made sure the kick went off without a hitch. “We were not quite joking around before we went out there, but we weren’t as serious probably as we could have been, just because as soon as we would have been serious, that’s room for error.
“I’ve kind of caught a lot of flack from it because I snapped the ball with three seconds left, but it’s because of a rhythm thing. We were in a rhythm and I wanted to do what we normally do.”
Cantele certainly was in a rhythm, hitting a career-high four field goals in the game. He connected from 31 yards with three seconds left in the first half to put the Wildcats up 17-7, then back-to-back from 34 late in the third quarter and from 23 with 5:59 left as they regained the lead, 28-27.
The performance earned Cantele Big 12 co-special teams player of the week honors. He’s now 11 of 13 on field goals and 40 for 41 on extra points to rank sixth in the league in scoring with 73 points.
When Oberkrom converted the second-longest field goal in TCU history, Cantele focused on his own routine, hoping for another chance.
“You can’t let (negative thoughts) creep into your mind,” he said. “It wasn’t until long after that game that I thought, ‘Crap, what if I missed that?’
“It’s not a thought during the game. It’s just like any other field goal. I’ve kicked that kick in practice a hundred times from that exact spot.”
There was no doubt in Krause’s mind that Cantele would rise to the occasion.
“Everybody but Jack, Marcus and I maybe didn’t know if that kick was going in, but before we went out there we all kind of talked about it, and that’s the stuff that dreams are made of.
“People want to be in a situation like that, to win a game. They want to be a part of something like that and I feel that we were all prepared to do so and it was just a matter of time before we had to go out there and do it.”
Cantele, who spent a redshirt year and last season watching older brother Anthony kick for the Wildcats, said that made him more nervous than doing it on his own.
He credited former K-State sports psychologist Michael Johnson, now at Arkansas, with helping to keep him in the proper frame of mind.
“He would come to practice and we’d have conversations,” Cantele said. “He’d notice the way I would react and he said, ‘You’ve got to think only about the positive stuff.’
“He texted me after the game and we text frequently, but it’s good to have someone like that in your corner, too.”
Still, when it was time to win the game, Cantele was left to his own devices.
“I couldn’t have been more accepting of the situation,” he said. “I couldn’t have wanted it more.
“There was absolutely no fear.”