KEMP – When it comes to pressure situations, Kemp sophomore kicker Tenilee Anthony knows how to handle those opportunities.
With the Kemp Yellowjackets down 36-34 with two seconds remaining on the clock against Eustace, the Bulldogs coach Monty Leaf called a timeout to try and freeze Anthony.
With ice in her veins, Anthony booted a 30-yard game-winning field goal, which was the first of her career with no time remaining for the 37-36 victory.
She said she didn’t go to bed until 2 a.m. thinking about it, and her older sister Brittni had to leave a restaurant due to how excited she was to hear the news.
“I didn’t know what happened,” Anthony said. “I thought they were resetting their defense and had no clue. I was nervous already and (Lee) Wilkins talked to me and told me you got it. I told him if I made it you owe me a Gatorade. The misses don’t bother me, but going up there my team had a lot of faith in me. I didn’t want to let them down, and I had to hope and pray and kick through it. I usually kick from the middle or left so wherever it is put I will do it.”
Anthony said after she nailed the kick, it felt like a movie and she didn’t think it was real at first.
Long snapper Klayden Cockrell and holder Collin Boyle got credit from Anthony for the kick against Eustace.
“Those boys mean a lot to me,” Anthony said. “They definitely need to get a lot more credit than they get because it had to be a perfect snap, perfect hold and perfect kick. Every time I walk up there, Collin always tells me to just make it.”
Following this kick, Anthony has been approached by David Smoak, Dave Campbell’s Texas Football and other organizations around the area for this recognition.
She said being a multi-sport athlete with basketball, volleyball, soccer, cross country, track and now softball, football was not the one she thought would be recognized.
“It feels great and it is definitely hard to explain,” Anthony said. “It is something that I have always dreamed of getting the recognition and I have worked hard my whole life. There were 34 points on that board before I got out there. I think those guys need to get that credit for that.”
Kemp head football coach Lee Wilkins is very protective of his kicker during pre-game warm ups and in game situations. He said he was proud of Anthony following the game-winning kick.
“Tenilee came out three weeks ago and wanted to try it and that was her first field goal attempt,” Wilkins said. “It was pretty amazing and we asked her where she wanted it and we put it on the left. It takes the line blocking and a great snap and hold.”
Wilkins said at first the idea of having Anthony be the kicker was something he didn’t consider. It was the tryout where he knew he saw something special.
“Somebody asked me that and I will be honest I dismissed it until I saw her kick a football for the first time,” Wilkins said. “Obviously there was something there with how it jumps off her leg. She has a will where if something needs to be corrected or worked on, she is not afraid to fail to get it fixed.”
Tenilee said parents Jason and Karen Anthony felt the same way about her kicking.
“They were scared at first and a little nervous,” Anthony said. “They didn’t know if I was going to get hit or get hurt for basketball because that is my passion. I didn’t know if I was going to get hit, but they told me I would be alright. I trust my team blocking for me so they want me to hit somebody now.
“I don’t want to go to the sidelines. I want to stay back and if somebody came I was going to try. He (Wilkins) didn’t like it, but he doesn’t know that I was going to try it. I am not really nervous because I trust my team a lot. I know if something was to happen, they got my back.”
Wilkins said Anthony’s personality makes Yellowjackets practices fun during game week.
“She is fun to be around with her personality and her outlook on life. She is a competitor and she is someone that is never going to give in,” he said. “Like I have told somebody else, I had a good feeling she could make the kick and I have seen her make the kick. Regardless of the outcome, I knew the moment was not too big for her. She makes us better just in her personality and willingness to fight and win. Her competitive nature is infectious for the other players and they enjoy being around her.”
Anthony said she would love to be the Yellowjackets kicker for her junior and senior year. Wilkins said he will gladly bring her in as the kicker.
“That means we are going to be a lot better,” Wilkins said. “We will have someone who wants to kick a field goal in tough situations because the one she was in the other night won’t be any tougher. She is consistent and will only get better from here on out.”
Following the game against Eustace, the team had Anthony break them out of the huddle. She said knowing they believe in her and welcomed her to the team means everything for her football career.
“That meant a lot to me to break the team out of the huddle after the game. Just having the guys around me and congratulating me means a lot,” Anthony said. “Knowing that the time I put in during the week that it means something and the goal is finally reached makes me feel like I did it. That is the second time I got to break them out and it is amazing. We always say family on three, and everyone of those guys is my family. I would do anything for every single one of them.”
She said with their next game Tuesday at home against Groesbeck, she knows what work needs to be done to help them get to 3-0 in district play.
“Now that I know how important games can get down to, they were telling me in the fourth quarter it may come down to it,” Anthony said. “I was telling them they were going to score the touchdown and we would be alright. I am going to practice hard everyday and do what I can for the guys and play my part. Hopefully we can come out with another win against Groesbeck Tuesday.”