Ernesto Rosas’ rise to the starting kicker position for the Altus Bulldog’s football team is an unusual one. A soccer player by choice for much of his life, Rosas had never considered football as an option and probably never would have if it had not been for Coach Jaime Reyna who planted the idea into Rosas’ head during his freshman year of high school.
Though the possibility of football never occurred to Rosas the drive to do so was always there. Rosas was an excellent soccer player who had a strong leg and could put a great deal of force behind a kick and send it where he wanted it to go, but how that translated to football was an entirely different story.
But with much persuasion from those he most looked up to, Rosas decided it was worth a shot.
“I always wanted to play football but for some reason, I just never got around to it. My dad always told me that I’d be a great kicker based on the fact that I played soccer and could kick the ball well. I never put much thought into it until the summer before my sophomore year,” Rosas said.
Reyna pulled Rosas aside one day and told him that the Bulldogs would be needing a kicker soon since Gabe Barton would be graduating. Reyna believed it would be beneficial to Rosas to spend a season under Barton’s guidance so that he could see all that Barton did and how he did it.
“Through the summer, I put a lot of consideration into it and I really wanted to join, but it seemed like all I needed was that little ‘push’,” Rosas said. “The first day of my sophomore year comes around and I had just sat down in my seventh-hour class. Not even 10 minutes had passed and there’s a knock at the door. I thought to myself that it was probably an office aide or something but surprisingly it was Coach Reyna.”
Reyna had come to ask Rosas if he still wanted to be a part of the team. Rosas did and the plan was set into motion to get Rosas switched over to football.
“We talked to my counselor about the schedule change and everything was settled within five minutes,” Rosas said. “I went from Mr. Bull’s technology class to the locker room in under five minutes. The story still amazes me to this day.”
What Rosas experienced when he entered the Bulldog locker room was unlike anything he had ever experienced before.
Within minutes, Rosas was adopted into the “Play for the A” culture and learned what it truly meant to be a member of the brotherhood. Like most who play football for Altus, Rosas learned that there was much more to the football program than he could imagine and just as soon as he was part of it, he committed himself to it fully and began to experience everything it had to offer.
“Personally, playing football is more than just a sport or a seventh-hour for me, it is my home away from home and where I see my family, away from family. From 6:30 a.m. work outs to team dinners that sometimes last as late as nine or 10 at night, I’m will the team for a big chunk of the day,” Rosas said. “With all this time we spend together, bonds develop, strengthen, and grow. That is what playing football means to me, the bonds made with coaches, trainers, and teammates.”
First and foremost, Rosas formed a bond with Barton and followed the star kicker’s every move as he learned what it took to be a successful kicker. He learned proper technique and kick power and he learned how to kick a field goal under pressure.
When it came to kicking under pressure, there was no better kicker in the state of Oklahoma to learn from that Barton who later that year kicked the last second field goal that earned Altus its first football state championship since 1971.
“Gabe was and still is a role model for me. He basically taught me everything I know and without his help, I don’t think I’d be where I am right now,” Rosas said. “I know that when the opportunity arises for a clutch field goal, I’ll be able to overcome and knock it through those uprights.”
Rosas has never stopped putting in the work necessary to become the best option at the kicker position for the Bulldogs since he took over the reins from Barton.
Although he has learned how to be the very best football player that he can be, there are other lessons he learned from his coaches and teammates that will help him long after he kicks his last field goal for the Bulldogs.
“The coaches had influenced and taught me in more ways than one. Responsibility is one of the things they have taught me. Not only is it a characteristic needed for life but it is something that people can rely on you for,” Rosas said. “Also selflessness, which is a word I learned the true meaning of this summer. Getting up for two-a-days isn’t always about you, it is also about the guys right next to you in the same weight room all striving toward the same goal. Just like everyone on this team, I’ve stayed committed and took care of everything I’ve needed to.”
Though he is now focused on his senior year and doing his part to bring the gold ball back to Altus, Rosas can reflect on his career and remember all of the things that have made it so special.
“Besides winning state, my most memorable moment has to be when we were at Camp Benway for the senior retreat just a month ago,” Rosas said. “Keegan Shive hooked into a five-pound bass and while trying to land it, he slipped in the water and lost the fish.”
The senior retreat is just one of the many ways the coaches have helped players bond over the years and the retreat helps each player realize what it truly means to be a part of the Bulldog brotherhood.
Now that the season has begun, Rosas is focused and ready to perfect his kicks to make sure that when his number is called, he is ready to go.
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.