Even as Gonzaga senior place kicker Jeff Furnary was about to participate in the most important play of his football career, he had other things on his mind. The Eagles were lined up for a 32-yard field goal in the fourth quarter of a wet, muddy WCAC semifinal against St. John's last week when they were called for a delay of game penalty. The ball was moved back five yards.
Furnary quickly moved his kicking tee back and didn't dare look at the sideline, because he feared the coaches would change their minds and not have him kick. The coaches didn't move.
Furnary kicked a career-long 37-yard field goal for a 3-0 victory.
"One of the assistant coaches said he thought we should go for it instead of kicking," Furnary said. "When we got called for the penalty, I was afraid if I looked over I would see the offense coming back onto the field. I didn't look at the yard lines or the sidelines or anything. I just kicked the ball."
Furnary, who is 6 feet 1, 168 pounds, had hoped to be Gonzaga's starting quarterback. Though he now is a backup wide receiver, he spent the first two games this year starting at free safety before he was replaced.
After both moves, he had words for Gonzaga Coach Kenny Lucas.
"He kept coming up to me and asking, 'What can I do to help?' " Lucas said. "He said he was willing to try this or try that. He would come up to me and say, 'What else can I learn?' "
Furnary had played soccer as a child and was the backup kicker last year. He was the holder as Gonzaga missed two 40-yard field goals in the fourth quarter of a 20-14 loss to DeMatha in the title game.
Away from football, he is president of Gonzaga's chemistry club, and his chances of making an impact on the football team as a sophomore were hurt when he spent most of the summer before that year studying in Ireland. He spent a week last summer helping to build a school in Guatemala City.
Such work, on and off the field, certainly has earned him his teammates' respect.
"He just works so hard, all the time," said senior tight end Joe Haynos, who is the holder for kicks. "When we went on the field for the kick against St. John's, I told him not to worry about the snap or spot, just kick the ball. We all knew he'd make it."
-- Christian Swezey