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ANDRADE'S WORDS AND KICK RING TRUE

His name is Carlos Andrade.

He wears green soccer shoes, the same kind soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo wears.

He plays sax in the band, and though the weather kept him in his football gear Friday night, normally he'd be marching at halftime.

He's never played football until this season. He almost transferred to Tampa Bay Tech, but had a last-second change of heart: He wanted to kick a winning field goal for his Spartan pals.

And Friday night, he did.

"I told them I would do it for them one of these weeks," Andrade said. "Didn't I. Didn't I tell you," he said, turning to linebacker Rodney Williams.

Williams smiled, wiped a little drop of blood from the bridge of his nose. "He sure did."

Andrade didn't seem at all surprised that he was able to deliver on the biggest kick in Spoto history. As his teammates yelled at the fans to leave him alone in the final seconds and he prepared on the sideline, Andrade encouraged the crowd to talk.

Oh, sure, sports decorum says you stay away from the guy with the no-hitter, the guy shooting the free throw with no time left on the clock, or the kicker getting ready to win a game.

But when that guy tells you to come closer, tells you how money he is going to be, tries to relax those around him instead of himself, what do you do? He didn't want to make this kick. He was going to make this kick.

When coach Dale Caparaso yelled out, "give me my hero," Andrade trotted out to the field and waved his arms to the crowd.

Go ahead, he was telling them, scream. I'm going to make this.

Last season, Andrade said he remembers watching Spoto football from the stands, mostly kicks being missed, and it was gruesome. It took five games for Spoto to make an extra point.

"It was pretty bad," he said.

His friend, quarterback James Brown, a soccer player himself, tried to talk him into playing, and Andrade figured he'd give it a try.

Not that he had a choice, once Caparaso found out he had a big right leg. The coach was putting away some football equipment one day and saw Andrade kicking during a soccer practice, "one of those corner kicks or whatever they call them."

"It was like a laser," Caparaso said. So he told Andrade to be there the next day, and he'd bring a football.

"One of those nasty, beat-up balloon balls," the coach recalled.

And Andrade kicked it long and straight and true.

"Coach Cap kept sending me text messages that I had to come out and kick," Andrade said. "So I built this ghetto tee, taped all these branches together, and would kick in the street outside my house. I hit some cars. But I wanted to practice."

He had put in for a transfer to TBT, but fell in love with his football teammates. He never followed up on leaving, and in the spring was kicking for the Spartans. Caparaso remembers his first kick, and tried to show how Andrade danced away after making it.

It wasn't a pretty dance.

"He wasn't quite sure how to react," Caparaso said.

Friday, he never even got a chance to react. All 32 of his teammates charged him after the kick sailed through, burying him beneath a sea of purple and silver.

"I told them every day in practice, some day I was going to do this," the 18-year-old junior said. "It's all I wanted to do. I love this team."

Caparaso isn't one to coddle his players. While his affection for them is unmatched, he had no problem telling Andrade it was his time, putting him on the spot, laying the pressure right there at those green shoes of his.

Give me my hero.

"I told him if he came and kicked for us, one day, he was going to make a kick and everybody in school was going to love him," Caparaso said.

His name is Carlos Andrade.

Find him Monday, and give him a hug.

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