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Seth Ellerbee goes in-depth on how Westminster kicking coach Joe Sturniolo and a slew of talented kickers have helped give Westminster the moniker "Kicker U." Craig Sager highlights last Saturday's Georgia Elite Classic Showcase at Grady High School, the first of the offseason, which resulted in 16 invites to December's games.
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Tuesday, April 24, 2018
By Seth Ellerbee

How Westminster became 'Kicker U'

Score Atlanta's Seth Ellerbee found out how Westminster became one of the premier high school football programs for producing kickers and punters. He spoke with Westminster kicking coach Joe Sturniolo, head coach Gerry Romberg and former Wildcat/current Kansas City Chief Harrison Butker to get the story on Westminster's rise to "Kicker U."
When Joe Sturniolo walked onto the campus at Westminster in 2000 to get his daughter, Katie, set for class, he searched for the football coach with an offer in mind. Sturniolo was the head statistician for the Atlanta Falcons and Georgia Tech football at the time, and he wanted to be involved with the Westminster athletic program.
The meeting between Sturniolo - Coach Sturno as he is now called - and head football coach Gerry Romberg took place in a trailer in the parking lot of the new gym, which was under construction, and little did anyone know that the meeting would be the first building block of Westminster's prolific kicking and punting squad.
"And the rest was history, as they say," Romberg said of his initial meeting with Sturniolo. "At the time, Joe was doing stats for the Falcons [and Georgia Tech]. He just came in and said, 'My daughter is going here, and I was wondering if you needed any help with stats and I'd love to be involved with the program,' and it was just like that."
Romberg agreed. Before too long, Sturniolo gravitated toward the kickers during practices, and as a product of his soccer background, he offered tips and suggestions. The tips and suggestions led him to study kicking
Sturniolo talks to special teams during the 2015 Class AAA state title game. Courtesy Westminster
and punting, buy books on the subject and even much later speak with Falcons kicker Matt Bryant for tips. By 2004, he had carved out his own specialized job as the kicking coach.
Since that meeting, it's astounding how many great kickers and punters Westminster has produced from a school of roughly 800 students. There might be 370 or so boys in the upper school each year. A Westminster football roster might have numbers in the high 60s, and all but a handful typically participate in at least one other sport. There's no spring football practice because there's no point; few of the players or coaches would be available. Romberg, for example, is an assistant coach to Scott Snyder, the boys soccer coach, in the spring. Snyder, in return, helps with some football in the fall and runs the basketball clock in the winter.
For a school so small in numbers, Westminster's football team has produced a Ray Guy All-American winner (the high school equivalent of the college award named for Thomson High School's legendary kicker, a Pro Football Hall of Famer), six all-state kickers/punters, two second-team all-state kickers/punters, four preseason all-state kickers/punters, 14 all-region/all-metro kickers/punters and nine kickers/punters who have gone on to play college football. And all that since 2007.
By Craig Sager

1st GA Elite Classic Showcase of offseason results in 16 game invites

The Georgia Elite Classic Showcase at Grady High School on April 21 handed out 16 invitations to compete in the sixth annual all-star classic this December. Players from the Class of 2019 through the Class of 2022 were eligible to attend this weekend's showcase (the first of the 2018 offseason) and took advantage of the opportunity in a big way.
Leading the camp evaluations was showcase coordinator, Georgia Elite Classic Director of Player Personnel and 247Sports analyst Rusty Mansell, along with the Classic's selection and review committee.
Chuck Smith (3rd from right) and participants
"It was amazing to see the amount of talent that came to Grady High School, especially on both the offensive and defensive lines,'' said I.J. Rosenberg, the president of Score Atlanta, the company that owns the Georgia Elite Classic. "We also had the benefit of Chuck Smith working with the defensive line and Chris Hixson with the quarterbacks. I don't think Rusty intended on giving out as many invitations as we did, but the group was that impressive.''
Howard cornerback Lorenzo Hargrove was one of the five players from the Class of 2019 to earn a spot in this year's senior game after a strong showing at the event; Hargrove recorded three interceptions for the Huskies last fall. Brookwood teammates Sean Hill and Aidan Perkins, both starters up front for Broncos as sophomores last year, were both invited to play in this year's Junior game.
Roswell kicker and quarterback Caden Long was one of five Class of 2021 players who were invited to play in the sophomore game. Long threw a touchdown and handled kicking duties in last year's Freshman game, helping the American team defeat the Nationals 17-15.
Here's a look at all the invitees:
Class of 2019
RB Gerald Daniels (Houston County)
CB Lorenzo Hargrove (Howard)
CB Antonio Prioleau (North Atlanta)
QB Cade Scott (Paulding County)
S Kyle Terry (Mt. Paran)
Class of 2020
OT Sean Hill (Brookwood)
OC Aidan Perkins (Brookwood)
DT Wesley Horton (North Atlanta)
DT Connor Johnston (Sequoyah)
DE Jordan Mitchell (Trinity Christian)
S Caleb Williamson (Harrison)
Class of 2021
WR Jaylen Ellis (Paulding County)
QB Caden Long (Roswell)
G Kaleb Lowe (Harris County)
CB William Mitchell III (Parkview)
DE Bryce Stanfield (Harrison)

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