Trinity League gridiron stars

Nobody seems to notice the kicker, punter or long snapper until they’re called upon to win the football game. 

Or they cause something bad to happen. 

Or both of the above. 

It’s a wonder why anyone pursues this line of work. 

But the Trinity League has churned out some pretty good ones in recent years, and several will occupy essential roles on big-time college teams this fall. 

Let’s start with Sam Loy. 

Loy, who graduated from Santa Margarita Catholic High School in 2016, is expected to handle the punt and kickoff duties for the University of Arkansas this season. 

He knows how slim the margin of success is for special team specialists like himself. 

“It’s really important to be consistent,” Loy said. “If you don’t have that consistency, then it doesn’t matter how strong your leg is.” 

Loy punted for Vanderbilt as a freshman and sophomore, earning second-team all-Southeastern Conference honors in 2016. 

After his second season with the Commodores, he took his skills to a higher altitude and transferred to the University of Colorado. He sat out last season under NCAA transfer rules and then decided to return to the SEC after Colorado’s head coach was dismissed. 

Now classified as walk-on, Loy wasn’t required to sit out another season. 

“I missed the SEC,” Loy said. “The best teams, best players and the best fans. I jumped at the chance to come back. I am fortunate to have a chance to play in the Southeastern Conference again.” 

Loy didn’t make the preseason Ray Guy Award watch list, which annually goes to the nation’s top collegiate punter at the end of the season, but another Trinity League graduate is on for a third straight year. 

Ryan Stonehouse, a 2017 graduate of Mater Dei, is set to begin his third season as the starting punter at Colorado State, which happens to play at Arkansas on Sept. 14. 

Stonehouse won the starting job as a freshman at Colorado State in 2017 and averaged 45.9 yards per punt, fifth-best in the country. He returned last season and bumped his average to 48.3, second-best in the nation and a school record. 

Two former Mater Dei kickers might also make noise in the Pac-12 this season. 

Chase McGrath is hoping to win back the starting job at USC after sustaining a torn ACL in the third game last season. 

McGrath was a vital piece of the 2017 USC team that won the Pac-12 championship game. He also kicked the tying field goal with no time left against Texas to send the game into overtime, and then booted the game-winner in double-overtime. 

McGrath faces some stiff competition this season, however. His replacement a year ago made 7-of-9 field goals while McGrath was injured. 

After serving as Mater Dei’s kicker last season, Nick Lopez signed with California as a preferred walk-on. He’s also expected to compete for the No. 1 spot. 

Servite graduate Asa Fuller is set to return as Fresno State’s kicker after making 14-of-22 field goal attempts last season, including two big ones in the Mountain West Conference championship game. 

Kickers and punters know they’re often only as good as their long snappers, and Seth MacKellar is hoping to make his look good at Arizona this season. 

MacKellar was an Under Armour All-American at JSerra last season, the first player from the school to earn that distinction at any position.

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