BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Sports Writer
As senior Jermaine Roemer was getting ready to kick his 30-yard field goal in the MHSAA Division 1 Football State Championship, his mom was in the Ford Field stands saying her mantra.
“Over the branch and out to the road,” shared Gina, Jermaine’s mother, explaining their side yard was about half the size of a football field. “When he was kicking for Clarkston Chiefs we could stand at the end and say – ‘see tree branch on the Oak, half high, you have to get it that high. Not only that high but to the dirt road.’ That’s what I am saying at the games. Listen to the coach, but mom said over the branch and out to the road.”
He made it – giving the Clarkston Varsity Football team three points which would win them their third state championship in five years. It was also his sixth field goal for the season.
“It was huge for me because the game before I had a lot of punts which were pretty good,” Jermaine said. “I attempted a field goal at the end (against Detroit Catholic Central) and didn’t make it. KR (Head Coach Kurt Richardson) trusted me with the kick and I made it. The rest is history.”
He added he wouldn’t have been able to make the kick without his team.
“I don’t kick unless my team puts me in that position. I wouldn’t be able to kick those field goals without my team behind me especially with that field goal,” he said.
Jermaine also punted for the team and a total of 41 punts his senior year for 1,615.5 yards, including a 69-yard punt in the playoff semifinals against Detroit Catholic Central and only six punts had a return in the season.
“Punters are weapons,” said Karsten, Jermaine’s father.
Jermaine began playing football when he was around 7/8-years-old with Clarkston Chiefs. It was with Chiefs his kicking started when his coach, Tim Brennan, asked players who were interested in kicking with Chiefs JV Blue to come early to practice.
“I was the only one who showed up,” he remembered.
“We knew he could kick the ball because he played recreational soccer,” said Karsten. “He had talent for hitting the ball.”
A talent which earned him the nickname the “Boot” in recreation soccer when he kicked for the goalie to the center of the field even though he was in the striker position and “Big Foot” by Brennan.
Jermaine explained he was always the kicker.
“I got good at kicking field goals,” he said. “Once we started doing the training I saw there was potential for something more.”
“I am big on mechanics, how the kick is supposed to work, you drill,” Karsten said. “Most of these guys hate drilling. You repeat over and over because you get better and better. Two years ago I knew nothing about football. My wife can tell you, she signed him up for football. I said you are crazy. Then, somehow kicking started in and talent was recognized.”
Jermaine went to his first camp run by Filip Filipovic, a kicking coach from Chicago, and K.C. Lopata, former University of Michigan kicker, in January 2016 where he saw college kickers in action.
“I want to be like them,” he said.
“We went to the first camp and it really started it,” Karsten said. “My function became to convey to my son to get to that level you have to regularly practice. I was the nagger trying to get him onto the field to practice three times a week.”
Jermaine admitted he didn’t like going to the field to practice.
“Once I got there I thought it was fun,” he said. “The time you put in isn’t always fun because you want to go hang out with your friends and I had to be at the field.”
Jermaine went to his next camp in April 2016 where he got hurt in the camp because he hit too many kicks.
“We thought ‘oh man, have to wait for a groin injury to heal,’” Gina said.
“Jermaine could not goal field kick but he could punt,” Karsten said “He never really punted much before, but he learned punting off of an injury.”
He got injured again at the end of his junior season which impacted his punting leading him to six months of physical therapy with Ken at ATI in Clarkston.
“He did a kick off without warming up and ruptured a tendoin on his quad muscle,” Karsten said. “He started from scratch because he couldn’t do much for five months. We went to Sunday clinics at Oakland Yard – signed up for ten and did five.”
Jermaine felt something was wrong when he ran to the ball and kicked it. An MRI showed his femur bone wasn’t round but an oval shape.
“So when he swings his leg backwards very far to kick hard, the head touches the lining of the socket,” Karsten explained. “He felt it. We decided no kick off during the season. It made him a specialty kick off guy. He had a hard time getting used to the steps again. Filipovic changed his step pattern in June right before the pre-season. He improved over the season and became more accurate.”
“Ken at ATI made him do dry kicks,” Gina added. “We drew a kicking pattern on the carpet and made the steps. Ken designed his physical therapy around the kicking. The first time we went in he found out his weaknesses and developed those muscles.”
Jermaine’s advice to aspiring athletes is to listen to the coaches and be more focused on the team than yourself.
“West Bloomfield had a ton of great talent and great athletes, but we won the game off heart and knowing we are brothers,” he said about the state championship game. “We have known each other since we were eight-years-old. We have been on the same team – we are family.”
One of his favorite aspects of Clarkston Football was building great relationships with people who had similar goals to his.
“They push me to reach what I want and I push them to reach what they want,” he shared. “I have met some of my best friends through football and have treated them like brothers since we were eight. My favorite moments have been training and preparation times of the season. Even though the training sucked at the time, it taught me hard work isn’t easy. Being in sports isn’t all about all lights and awards. I have been extremely fortunate to be part of the Clarkston program because our coaches never let up on us. They want us to succeed. Even though I was a kicker, I was treated like everyone else. I have pushed others and turned constructive criticism to further my abilities.”
Next for Jermaine is winter camps with Filipovic starting this month as he continues to decide on a college to attend. Then, he gets ready for discus with Clarkston Boys Track & Field’s spring season.