Stampeders kicker Rene Paredes is hearing “keep it going” when he’s out and about in Calgary these days.
Working on an extension of the Canadian Football League’s record for consecutive field goals has felt a little easier than actually setting it.
Paredes admits he felt pressure for three weeks in July as he neared Paul McCallum’s record of 30 straight three-pointers without a miss.
Now with 36 heading into Saturday’s game in Vancouver against McCallum and the B.C. Lions, Paredes is forging new territory instead of trying to cover ground already travelled.
“Now that the record is broken, I have nothing to worry about,” Paredes said Thursday. “We go for the next kick. I don’t have to think about it.”
The 28-year-old passed McCallum on the second of five field goals he booted July 26 in Winnipeg. It was from a makeable 19 yards, but Paredes admits the following three from 26, 33 and 23 felt shorter.
“Those two or three weeks, there was a lot of pressure from media, you had the media going to you every day, your friends are texting you. You can’t get away from it,” he said.
“In Winnipeg, after I broke the record, the last three kicks, there was a lot of weight off my shoulders. I told everybody ‘if it happens, it happens’ but deep inside you really want it.”
Paredes is a perfect 18-for-18 so far this season. His last miss was Sept. 23, 2012. He leads the CFL in kicking points with 72, which accounts for more than a third of Calgary’s 204.
He was born in Venezuela, grew up in Florida and moved to Montreal in his teens when his father took a job there.
Paredes was preparing for his senior year as the Concordia Stingers’ kicker in 2011 when the Stampeders signed him as a free agent. His first CFL field goal was from 50 yards.
Paredes chalks his consistency this year up to a few factors. As part of his pre-game preparation, Paredes walks the field visualizing kicking a field goal from a point on the field three times before moving on to do the same from another position.
Paredes and punter Rob Maver both signed multi-year contract extensions in the off-season, so Paredes isn’t wondering about his status with the team or job security.
“We’re know we’re the guys as long as we’re doing our job,” Paredes said. “That part of the business we don’t have to worry about. It feels stable.”
He and Maver work with former Alouettes kicker Don Sweet in the off-season and stay in contact with him during the season. Paredes credits Sweet with helping him keep a level head.
“The streak, he never mentioned it. He said ‘just do your job,“’ Paredes said.
Paredes also says he doesn’t think about football when he’s away from the field.
“He comes to work, he’s got a good mental makeup and he takes each kick for what it is,” Stampeder special teams coach Mark Killam said. “He’s found his rhythm and we just try to maintain his rhythm.”
Paredes became emotional July 20 when Montreal’s John Bowman blocked one of his attempted field goals.
TSN commentators declared Paredes’ record bid over, but the CFL ruled that since the ball did not cross the line of scrimmage, it was a fumble not a miss. That kept Paredes 4-for-4 in the game and his consecutive streak intact at 29 — one short of the record.
Paredes was visibly upset as he walked to the sideline after Bowman’s block, but not because he thought the record was lost.
“I sort of knew the record was still intact because I sort of knew the rule,” he explained. “I was really mad at what had happened. If it was a game-winning field goal, we can’t do that as a unit.”
The Lions’ McCallum still holds the league’s single-season record for the highest percentage of field goals made at 94.3. Paredes wasn’t far off it in 2012 when he went 40-for-43 for a 93 per cent success rate.
Paredes is currently operating at 100 per cent and enjoying it while it lasts.
“You have to be happy,” Paredes said. “It’s not bad thing.”