It can take a lifetime for some to become the best at what they do. For Laguna Beach High School football player Robbie McInerny, it has taken less than two seasons. As of last Friday, the senior place kicker owned or shared at least seven school kicking records. He’s also tied for second in the state with 56 PATs. “He’s just got a knack for it,” said Head Coach Mike Churchill. “It’s just hard to put into words.”
A lifelong soccer player, McInerny has always been pretty good at kicking a ball. But it wasn’t until he tried out for Churchill’s Breakers his junior year that the rest of the world found out just how good he is. “He put that thing in orbit, and it was like God had smiled down upon us,” said Churchill.
McInerny went on to set the school’s career scoring record for a kicker in the final game of his first season, surpassing by two the 80 points that Jason Crabbe took two years to amass in 1987-88. Wanting to build on his success, McInerny attended several post season kicking camps. “Robbie’s an athlete. Athletes don’t want to do anything half way,” said Churchill.
The all-CIF kicker won the “Last Man Standing” award at a national competition in Oregon last January, booting a 52-yard field goal to beat many of the country’s top college prospects. At a similar event in Las Vegas this past summer, a 62-yarder earned him the title of Camp Champion.
If the Breakers weren’t so prolific at scoring touchdowns, McInerny’s career point total would most certainly be higher. He has only five career field goals, but his 47-yarder against St. Margaret’s this season was the longest ever in a Breaker home game and the sixth longest in school history.
Of McInerny’s 76 kickoffs this season, 51 have sailed into or beyond the end zone, which means opposing offenses have had to start their possessions on their own 20 yard line most of time. Given few opportunities to return McInerny’s kicks, it’s no wonder Breaker opponents have averaged only 15 points per game. “You can almost forget about scoring on the kicking game,” said Churchill.
Most place kickers, even in high school, are usually specialists, which means they only kick. Not McInerny. He also leads the team with six interceptions as a starting defensive back. And when Laguna runs up a big lead, as they often do, McInerny sees playing time as a second string running back. “Where ever they want to play me, I’ll play,” he said.
He scored his first career touchdown on a five yard run in the third quarter of the season opener on the road against Bolsa Grande of Garden Grove. He then got up and kicked the extra point to give himself 13 points on the night, a personal best. “Whether it’s scoring a touchdown, getting an interception, or kicking a field goal, it’s a great feeling,” said McInerny.
Before McInerny, the school’s single game record for PATs was seven, held by three players and last accomplished in 2008 by John Snedegar (’08). Since then, McInerny has hit eight in one game six times, most recently at this year’s homecoming game against Calvary Chapel.
He kicked all eight in the first half, and then accepted the crown as homecoming king before heading off to the locker room. “It’s kind of funny because my mom was the Rose Queen,” said McInerny, whose mother Suzanne (Gillaspie) McInerny presided over the 1983 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena. “We have a king and a queen in the family, I guess,” he said, laughing.
McInerny’s first love is baseball and is Laguna’s starting second baseman. He has committed to play for the University of California, Berkeley, where he will follow in the footsteps of his great grandfather, who once held a touchdown record for the Bears, and his father, who once hit two grand slams in one game to set the school’s single game RBI record of eight, a mark that remains today.
McInerny has no plans to give up his second love just yet. He recently met with Cal’s special teams football coach, who has encouraged the moonlighting kicker to try out for the team as a walk on. Until then, McInerny is “just happy to be playing division one college baseball,” he said.
The Breakers head into post season with a real shot at winning the school’s second CIF title and first since 1946. “We’ve all been talking about [winning CIF] since the beginning of the season,” said McInerny. “If we just come out every game and play our best game, then you could see us in the finals.”