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Yodice: La Cueva record holder Camacho didn’t want to kick

La Cueva senior Dominic Camacho (8), shown here kicking last week against Valley, is relieved his chase for the state field goal record is over and is grateful for the support he has received. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

By nature, Dominic Camacho is not an attention seeker.

His right leg, however, has painted him into a corner.

The humble La Cueva High School senior on Friday night kicked his way to the top of a very significant list, as his 29th career field goal with the Bears placed him at No. 1 all-time in New Mexico.

“I’m happy that I finally got it out of the way,” Camacho, 17, said Saturday, a night after his 18-yarder on the final play of the first half gave him the solo record. “And, that I get to hold the record. Honestly, it’s great.”

Camacho’s fifth field goal of the season broke a tie with former Albuquerque High standout Erik Hinterbichler, who’s had the record to himself – according to the list that appears on nmact.org, the New Mexico Activities Association’s website – for nearly 20 years.

“Pretty awesome to see,” said La Cueva senior receiver Connor O’Toole. “I know a lot of the guys, when he goes out on the field, we’re all 100% confident that he’ll knock it down, definitely in the clutch.”

Camacho first came to the attention of La Cueva coach Brandon Back in his final year of YAFL, in a Super Bowl game against Volcano Vista when he was an eighth-grader.

Camacho has kicked for the Bears’ varsity the last three seasons. He made eight field goals two seasons ago, 16 more last year.

“We’ve been blessed with great kickers at this school, and he’s one of the better ones we’ve had,” Back said. “He loves that craft.”

But as is sometimes the case with a specialist, the love affair needed time to develop.

He had been out of football for a few years, playing soccer, when he had an itch to return.

“I missed it,” he said. “And I knew that I’d have fun doing it.”

But he was talking football, not kicking.

“I didn’t want to kick at all (when I came back),” Camacho said just prior to the start of a practice session at La Cueva late Saturday afternoon. “I was trying to lay low. I just wanted to play running back.”

It was obvious he had an aptitude for kicking, however. Striking a football felt, to him, about as natural as striking a soccer ball.

“I thought it would be a side job,” Camacho said. “But it’s blossomed into something great.”

Eastern New Mexico has already offered Camacho a scholarship; Camacho is cognizant of Andrew Shelley from Eldorado being the kicker at UNM, and recent Hope Christian graduate Vince Quezada trying to make a name for himself in Las Cruces with New Mexico State.

Camacho does play some strong safety for the La Cueva defense as well. But the kicking has given him a state record.

He’s also benefited from having the same long snapper (Barrett Haemker, who also snapped for Camacho in their YAFL days) and holder (quarterback Austin Smith) the last season and a half.

“They’re the most important part,” Camacho said. “I couldn’t do it without those two.”

Camacho’s career-long field goal at La Cueva is 53 yards. He said he’s cleared 60 yards in practice.

But there is something new this year for Camacho: He is kicking off the ground. Which is quite difficult for most kickers at this level.

“It’s something I decided to do on my own,” he said. “It’s for college, just about getting better. But it’s definitely harder.”

La Cueva recently had a new turf practice field involved, which has been invaluable in this transition.

But kicking apparatus or not, Camacho just makes field goals. He is a legitimate offensive weapon for La Cueva.

“Absolutely,” Back said. “We know if we get it down there, we should come out with points. We don’t hesitate, even in long situations, to put him in.”

Born and raised in Albuquerque, Camacho said Saturday he’s glad the record is behind him, even as his accomplishment blew up Friday night on social media.

“It does surprise me,” he said of the attention. “You don’t really hear about kickers getting this much attention.”

Today, everyone does.

“I’m really thankful,” he said, “for everyone that’s helped me.”

RECORD KEEPING: Speaking of records, as a P.S. to Roswell’s 76-54 win in Week 2 over Lovington, that game produced the most points (130) of any 11-Man game in the state’s history, according to that aforementioned records list on nmact.org. Albuquerque Academy and Taos combined for 129 in a game eight years ago.

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