Buscemi’s kickoffs add extra weapon for Smyrna

Anthony Buscemi (60) celebrates after the Smyrna football team won the state championship last season. Buscemi handles all onside kickoff duties for the Eagles. State News file photo

SMYRNA — Most kickers dream about hitting a game-winning field goal as time expires.

Not Anthony Buscemi. The Smyrna High junior knows the chances of that happening are extremely slim.

But Buscemi has one of the most important roles for the Eagles. He’ll be front and center on kickoffs as Smyrna looks for its third consecutive Division I football state championship with a 1 p.m. contest at Delaware Stadium against Middletown on Saturday.

It’s a strange position to play for Smyrna. The Eagles don’t kick field goals or extra points and usually go for it on fourth downs.

They do have to kick off, however. And that’s where Buscemi comes in.

Most of Smyrna’s kicks are onside attempts. So while he’s not going to score any points, Buscemi can get his team the ball back.

“I go into every kick knowing I’m helping the team in some way,” Buscemi said. “You can’t go up there and kick the ball just to kick it. Whatever I do, I’m trying to help the team whether it’s a perfect onside or a perfectly placed pooch on the 20. I know my kicks are helping out.”

Buscemi never played football until last year when he came out for the team as a sophomore. But he had played soccer his whole life so he did bring somewhat of a kicking background to the position.

He joined knowing full well what he was getting into.

“I knew when I came in we weren’t going to start kicking 60-yarders,” Buscemi said. “I knew they did all the onsides and I was ready for that. I knew that can help us win and I’m trying to help out any way I can.”

Smyrna coach Mike Judy said Buscemi bought in right away to what the Eagles do.

“He’s such an underrated part of what we do,” Judy said. “We do things a little differently and he’s a big part of it. He has such an accurate foot, which really helps us. In practice, we can point to a spot on the field where we want the onside to go and he’ll hit it. We’ll put a trash can out there and he’ll kick the ball right into it.”

Buscemi’s game has grown even more this year.

He can kick the ball deep on kickoffs, which is important in terms of keeping the receiving team honest. He now has the ability to boot the ball into the end zone for touchbacks.

“To go from never kicking a football to doing that is pretty incredible,” Judy said.

While it likely won’t happen in a game this year, Buscemi practices field goals too. He’s gotten so good at those, Judy said he’s seriously considering kicking field goals next season.

Buscemi said his long in practice is 57 yards.

“This was an opportunity I wanted to take and see how well I could do at it,” he said. “I knew I had a pretty good leg at soccer, so it seemed like it could be fun. As soon as I came in they treated me like family.”

Three-sport athlete Wilson key for Smyrna defense

In Larsen Wilson’s basement, there’s a wrestling mat.

Larsen Wilson intercepts a pass in the 2016 state tournament semifinals. State News file photo

He spent many nights growing up practicing with his three brothers in that basement. Before or after the wrestling portion of their evening, the Wilsons would head to the backyard and play some football.

Wilson is a state champion wrestler, a two-time state champion in football as Smyrna’s free safety and is the centerfielder for Smyrna’s baseball team. He said he owes a lot of that to his family.

“Commitment was a huge thing our parents taught us,” Wilson said. “Just staying committed, never giving up and not quiting.”

Three of the four Wilsons to pass through Smyrna are state champion wrestlers, Jarren, Kalen and Larsen. The fourth, Masen is currently a sophomore.
Kalen and Larsen were each a part of a state title-winning football team while Masen is on varsity for the first time this season.

Judy said the Wilsons are some of the most coachable athletes he’s ever seen.

“The thing about Larsen is he doesn’t rob from one hand to feed the other,” Judy said. “He’s a great safety for us, he’s a state champion wrestler and he’s a key part of our baseball team. But he focuses on all of these equally and is committed to his craft.”

Larsen Wilson said a lot of the lessons he learned in wrestling can be applied to the football field. Both of those teams have had a rich tradition of state championships and community support in Smyrna in recent years.

“The biggest similarity with wrestling and football is being committed and knowing your role,” Wilson said. “We do it for the community and the people that played before us. It’s nice to make a great run in the state tournament. It’s nice when all the people come to the games and they’re watching a good team play.”

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