Sports Person of the Week
Damian Delivers Pivotal Points as East Haven’s Kicker
Senior kicker Evan Damian connected on seven field goals and 33 extra points to earn All-SCC Tier 3 honors for the East Haven football team this season, while helping the Yellowjackets finish with a record of 7-3. (Photo courtesy of Evan Damian )
Evan Damian has been a mainstay on the East Haven football team throughout the past four years. Evan served as the Yellowjackets’ kicker and punter since his freshman season and also saw time at wide receiver as a senior this fall. Evan piled up 54 points with his foot by hitting seven field goals and going 33-for-33 on extra points to make the All-SCC Tier 3 Team. His contributions helped the Easties have a great campaign that featured a record of 7-3.
Evan takes great pride in putting points on the board for the Yellowjackets. He likes that he can make a big impact by booting the ball through the uprights.
“It’s great having the opportunity to get points for the team,” Evan says. “Sometimes people don’t think about field goals and extra points, but those are the types of situations that can end up being big. I’m proud to be able to do that for my team.”
Evan fills a specialized role and may only get into a game a few times in his kicking capacity. When he is called upon, Evan knows that any points he produces may prove crucial to the outcome of the contest. Evan steps into some pressure-packed scenarios, but he makes sure to stay focused in those tough spots.
“When I go on the field, I block everything out,” says Evan. “I talk to myself and tell myself I can do it. You have to have that motivation to say to yourself, ‘You’re going to do it.’”
Evan was under the spotlight when East Haven went up against Hamden during the 2015 season. Only a freshman, Evan found himself competing in the longest game in SCC history that lasted four overtime periods. Evan kicked the game-winning field goal in the fourth OT to give the Yellowjackets a 34-31 victory.
“I took the final kick and won the game for the team. It was pretty crazy,” Evan says. “It came down to me, and it was nerve-wracking. Everyone was there watching me. The pressure was on me, and I had to take the kick and do my job.”
The most important aspect of being a kicker is maintaining impeccable form through the ball. For Evan, it comes down to the work he puts in before takes the field. By repeatedly working on his form, Evan builds the muscle memory that helps him convert in key moments.
“As a kicker, you have to give your best every time you’re out there. If you mess up your form just a little bit, the kick will be off, says Evan. “I just have to practice, practice, practice. I have to kick it a certain way. It just takes just a lot of practice.”
Evan also lined up as a wide receiver for East Haven this year, catching a touchdown pass in a win against Xavier. It was important for Evan to get reps at the wide-out position, because he wanted to make an even bigger contribution to the Easties.
“I wanted to get onto the field a bit more with the team and, being the wide receiver, I got to do that,” he says. “I have pretty good hands. I wanted to be able help the team in another way and wide receiver let me do that.”
Scott Benoit was impressed with Evan’s kicking skills, as well as his leadership, during his first year as East Haven’s head coach. Benoit believes the sky will be the limit for Evan when gets the chance to work with his own kicking coach on the collegiate level.
“I think Evan is the best kicker in high school that I’ve been around. He is a very good influence on the younger guys. He never misses practice. He’s a good student and a good citizen off the field. He’s what we want our players to be,” says Coach Benoit. “Evan’s been incredibly steady and incredibly accurate. He has a very good future. Right now, I think he’s a better kicker than punter, but I think if he has someone to work with him every day, he’ll be really good at both.”
Evan plans to kick in college and has several schools on his shortlist. Looking back at his time with the Yellowjackets, Evan feels thankful for all the coaches, teammates, and classmates who’ve helped become the person that he is today.
“I want to keep playing. I have schools recruiting me right now as a kicker. I just want to bring myself to a school with a football tradition. I want to do my thing kicking, and I think I can make my legacy bigger in college. Whoever gives me the opportunity to play and get better, I will take that chance,” Evan says. “I also just wanted to thank my senior class for giving me a great high school experience. They are the reason why I’m where I am. I grew up with them and played all through middle school and high school with them.”