Hudson kicker Jake Vidmar sets state record for extra points

by Rob Barrone
Hudson senior kicker Jake Vidmar swings into and extra point attempt during Hudson''s Division II regional final at Archbishop Hoban Nov. 6. Vidmar completed his career with an Ohio state record with 122 straight extra points.

Winning football has become expected at Hudson High school. Over the past 20 years the Explorers have a combined record of 162-62.

It’s not a coincidence that during that recent span of success Hudson has had its share of above average place kickers.

This year’s squad had two; with extra-point and field goal kicker Jake Vidmar and punter/long field goal and kickoff specialist Caleb Junko carrying on the legacy.

The two seniors saw their high school careers end Nov. 6 at Archbishop Hoban in the 31-14 loss to the Division I, Region 5 champion Knights.

Vidmar ended his three-year career with an Ohio state record 122 consecutive extra-points made. Vidmar made both of his tries in the Explorers (9-1) season finale at Hoban to end with the streak intact.

This is the third record state record currently held by Explorers; his predecessor and mentor Grant Gonya (class of 2018) has two field goal state marks (most field goals career" 41 and consecutive field goals made: 17).

Gonya’s longest extra-point streak was 40 straight he made 162-168 in his four-year career and was 41-54 on threes in his four-year stint.

That tradition of very good place kicking has followed the Hudson High football team for some time now; when it really began to surface is unsure. For Vidmar a record that has been three years in the making began just five seasons ago.

“I started (kicking) in the eighth grade,” Vidmar said. “Former kicker Grant Gonya saw that I could hit some; he came up to me and got me out there. He taught me everything I know. Since then we have been getting together and he has been teaching me and helping me along the way.”

As a freshman Vidmar backed up Gonya in the 2017 campaign but never saw varsity action. When Gonya moved on to Youngstown State Vidmar became the place kicking starter.

After converting his first eight extra-points as a sophomore Vidmar got the only black mark on his record in game four at Brecksville. A meaningless conversion with 1:15 left in a 27-0 Hudson win was partially blocked and came up short.

Vidmar would never miss an extra-point again (130-131 in his career); starting the state record streak the next week at Nordonia and earning him the nickname “Vid-omatic.”

The previous record of 111 was set by another local kicker: Woodridge 2012 graduated Hunter Niswander, went on to kick at Northwestern.

Vidmar broke the record with his second extra-point in the Explorers’ 35-28 overtime win against Riverside Oct. 23.

Joel Schipper of Grand Rapids, Mich. holds the national record with 145 in a row.

“It’s cool,” Vidmar said of the record. “…but I don’t really think too much about it. Again …my whole, team, coaches, town were all behind me. With the offense putting up so many points it just felt like something we were going to accomplish.”

“Our offense, our coaches have been working so hard. The fact that they have been scoring so much, putting up all those points gave me an opportunity to do something,” Vidmar expressed. “The holder, quarterback Jacob Paltani, snapper Jackson Thomas; without them I could’nt have done it. I’m super proud of my whole team.”

Head coach Jeff Gough seen a number of quality kickers wearing the Blue and White since his playing days ended in 2005 and his coaching career began.

“Vidmar; he has been just so consistent. In practice he is on his own a lot. He is doing things he learned from the guys that came before him; the Grant Gonyas, the Jonah Wielands, the Pierce Roysters, Ross Coberly …just go down the list. Mike Ulmer …I’m sure I missed some guys. That kind of special teams brotherhood is huge,” Gough said.

“The consistency it takes to get to that record (122) is incredible. We’re not just talking about pretty good …were talking the best of all-time. He has worked his butt off in the weight room. He is a Division I kicker in my book,” Gough added.

With former Hudson quarterback Jackson Parker handling the special teams coaching Vidmar went 107-107 during Parker’s time as special teams coordinator.

“First of all the kid works his butt off. I’m not a kicking specialist more of an X’s and O’s type,” Parker said. “He’s his own coach and having Grant (Gonya), another state record holder. Whether it’s long snapping, kicking, punting …it’s been phenomenal (at Hudson). Now Jake is a record holder …I’m so proud; he deserves it. Those two (holder) Paltani and Jake have great chemistry.”

That chemistry and consistency required ten players in a supporting cast.

For the past 54 kicks this year, Thomas was the center on the kicks and was the first to have a hand in the record.

“It’s an incredible to be that consistent for that long. To have that many in a row without mess-ups is very hard to do,” Thomas said. “Even the top level struggles to do that …it’s crazy that we can do it here at the high school level.”

Paltani held the kicks for Vidmar all three years and all of the 122 in a row.

“Honestly I didn’t know until probably early this year that he was going for a record,” Paltani noted. “We all wanted to get it …it’s a team thing. He’s a great kicker. He didn’t play all of his life so he’s been improving each year. He’s always out there kicking and wanting to get better …that’s props to him, that’s all him.”

Vidmar converted 19-25 field goals over the past three years as well.

Vidmar ended his career with 187 points. That’s fifth all-time at Hudson.