Former Wildcat helps team into playoffs
The art of place kicking in football is a skill in which few people excel.
For former Cassville Wildcats' kicker Jason Bromley, it just came naturally.
Bromley helped lead the Wildcats to a state quarterfinal appearance in football and also aided in a state final four finish for the Wildcats' soccer team back in 2005 when he was a Cassville High School senior.
After kicking at Missouri State University, Bromley still had the desire to play football, but no outlet.
"You never want to hang up you cleats," said Bromley. "After college, I still had the desire to compete but nowhere to go."
That is when fate intervened. A chance meeting with an old friend set the stage for Bromley's next athletic chapter.
Bromley's friend invited him to tryout for the Joplin Crusaders, a semi-pro football team that caters to a diverse group of athletes.
"The Crusaders are a developmental team that strives to help athletes move on to the next level of football," said Crusaders' player representative Sam Sturgis. "We have helped junior college players go to Division 1 schools. We have helped players sign with Arena League and Canadian League squads. We are also here for college graduates who want to play a little more football."
For over 13 years, the Joplin Crusaders have played in the Central States Football League (CFL) and are Missouri's only semi-professional football team.
`"The coaching staff and players are great," said Bromley. "They remind me a lot of Cassville, but instead of playing on Friday, we play on Saturday."
As part of the Crusaders, Bromley and his teammates volunteer their time to assist with area charities.
This season, the Crusaders spent time with victims of child abuse.
"We set up a mini-camp and played games with these kids," said Sturgis. "It really warms your heart when you see these kids smile after all they have been through. We feel a personal responsibility to give back to our communities."
In the CFL, the Crusaders have been a strong contender winning five championships and were runners-up three times.
This year, the Crusaders are 9-0 and secured home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Bromley played a huge role in the undefeated season.
With 30 seconds remaining against the defending CFL champion Enid Enforcers, Bromley was sent onto the field for a 48-yard field goal attempt to break a 28-28 tie.
A false start penalty pushed the Crusaders back five yards, but Bromley assured his coach he could connect on the try. He made good on his promise.
"I had never made a kick that long (in a game)," said Bromley. "Everything about that day was perfect from my pregame warm-up to the snap and the hold."
Sturgis had a less modest description of the kick.
"I have never played in a game where a kicker attempted, let alone made a kick of that distance," said Sturgis. "That kick would have been good from 60 to 65 yards out. Jason is amazing in the way he prepares and the attitude he plays with."
The field goal was a personal best for Bromley and was confirmed as the CFL record.
The Joplin Crusaders host the Oklahoma Roughnecks in the CFL semifinal at Fred G. Hughes Stadium in Joplin on Saturday, June 8.
Admission is $8 with children 16-and-under admitted free.
Gates open at 6 p.m. with kickoff set for 7.