A chance encounter with a former Green Bay Packer and – of all things – COVID-19 quarantine helped make Wajskol a college football star for the undefeated Rams.
By Dan Brood | Photos of Léon Neuschwander
By his own admission, Asher Wajskol had a strange journey.
It’s a journey that has seen the Central Catholic elder go from being a 5-foot-2, 100-pound JV2 football player to being a primary kicker / kicker and a great special teams weapon, for the undefeated Rams football team that will play for the Class 6A state championship on Saturday.
“It’s crazy,” Wajskol said. “This is my first year in college, not just in football, but in any sport.”
Crazy and, well, you could say, weird.
“I had a strange journey to get here,” said Wajskol, now 6-0, 165, laughing. “My best friend (Luca Rodarte, Catholic senior from the center) is the long snapper here. I started out just helping him, grabbing pictures for him. When I was doing this, I just started doing a few.
It turned out to be something Wajskol enjoyed – and he wasn’t too bad.
That’s when another quirk, in the form of circumstances, happened.
“I just met (former Green Bay Packers punter) Justin Vogel at Delta Park. I talked to him and he helped me, ”Wajskol said. “I started kicking and kicking that summer, but I was not far from good.”
But it didn’t matter. Wajskol was addicted.
At this point, Wajskol’s athletic experience in high school was being a small goalkeeper for the JV2 men’s soccer team at Central Catholic.
Then, something not really strange, but very unfortunate, happened – COVID-19.
With COVID-19 came quarantine.
While, of course, midlife was nothing everyone enjoyed, in its odd way, it might have turned out to be a good thing for Wajskol.
“I grew a bit in my forties and gained muscle,” he said.
Wajskol also decided to stop playing soccer and focus on soccer.
“I was there every day, working on the kicks and the volley kicks,” he said.
During his junior football season – the revised and shortened 2021 spring season – Wajskol played at the sub-college level. It made sense, after all, because last spring the Rams had senior kicker Atticus Sappington, who played in the 2021 Les Schwab Bowl set to join the Oregon State football team this fall.
But Wajskol continued to work hard.
“I knew Atticus was going to leave and I would have a chance to kick things,” Wajskol said.
That’s when he enlisted the help of his best friend Rodarte, who is ranked No.1 for senior long snapping prospects in the state and No.21 in the country by Rubio Long Snapping. .
“I met Austin Rehkow (former University of Idaho kicker / punter) via Luca, and worked on everything with him,” Wajskol said. “He helped me with everything with the kicks and the punters, and he also helped me with the mental side of things, staying calm and playing under pressure. I have to say he helped me as much as anyone.
Wajskol has also started attending kicking camps.
“The kicking camps were a great opportunity. I’m going to Chris Sailer camps, ”Wajskol said. “If you have 100 kickers there, you can see where you stand. You also make a lot of good relationships. There I met Soren McKee (the outstanding kicker / kicker from Summit High School). I sort of followed the same path as Soren (who was the goaltender for the Summit State Championship men’s soccer team this fall). I was the goalie for the JV2 soccer team here at Central during my first and second years. I was all 5-2 and 100 pounds. Soren is awesome. He’s ranked ahead of me, but I’ve had him on points scored this season.
Points. Yes, Wajskol scored a bunch of them for the great power central Catholic offensive.
Wajskol scored 83 extra points and went to 3 for 4 on field goal attempts with a length of 39 yards. That gives him 92 points for Saturday’s title.
Wajskol also excelled as a kicker for the Rams, averaging 37 yards per punt.
Wajskol, for his efforts in the Mt. Hood conference game, was an all-conference second-team selection as a kicker and an honorable mention pick as a punter.
“I really like the kicks. I think it’s super fun, ”Wajskol said. “I also really like the boat. Once you get the basics right and it all kicks in, it’s so much fun. Kicks are maybe my weakest aspect, but I think it will come when I grow up. “
But even the kickoffs were pretty good for Wajskol. He’s got 50 touchbacks this season, while also mixing in a lot of firecracker kicks and line punches.
And, in his first college season – in any sport – Wajskol played a key role for the undefeated Central Catholic. He was crucial for the Rams in their 35-28 win over the Jesuits in last week’s Class 6A semifinal at Hillsboro Stadium.
Wajskol went 5 for 5 on extra kicks. He also helped set the tone for the game, throwing the opening kickoff for a touchback. At the end of the first half, tied at 7-7, Wajskol punted for 44 yards, the ball passing the Jesuit returner and falling to the Crusaders’ 26-yard line with 1 minute and 47 seconds remaining in the second quarter. From there, the Jesuit would get a first try before time ran out in half time.
“With punting you want to get as much distance as possible. I’m trying to return the pitch, ”Wajskol said. “You want to prepare the other team for failure.”
In the second half, a kick-off from Wajskol helped set up one of the game’s key plays. The Rams had just taken a 21-14 lead after a spectacular 33-yard touchdown by Catholic senior Stryder Todd-Fields with 3:23 left in the third quarter.
In the ensuing kick-off, Wajskol struck a line punch, with the Jesuit returner having to put his knee on the turf to line the ball – on the Crusaders’ 3-meter line.
“At kick-off we are changing things to keep the returning teams on their toes,” Wajskol said. “And we have a really good cover team.”
Three games after kick-off, Jordan King, senior Catholic center, intercepted a Jesuit pass and returned the ball 14 yards for a Rams touchdown.
“The pick-6 was a really good time for me,” Wajskol said. “I was pretty excited about it.”
King’s touchdown took the Rams’ lead to 28-14. Central Catholic would delay a late Jesuit rally to win 35-28.
The Rams (14-0) will now face Tualatin (12-1) in Saturday’s Class 6A State Championship game at noon at Hillsboro Stadium.
“We’re really excited about this,” Wajskol said. “It’s a great opportunity for everyone to continue to show what we can do. I don’t think we have any real weaknesses.
As for the future, Wajskol hopes to play college football, but it’s not his top priority.
“I hope I will play some kind of football,” he said. “But my academic pursuit is the main thing for me. I want the best education possible. I hope it will be in a school where I can also play football.
Before all that, however, Wajskol has something else on his schedule – to close out his first college sports season by participating in Saturday’s state championship game.
“I’m excited for this,” he said. “I’ll be ready.”
The journey – the strange journey – continues.
More on Central Catholic:
Central Catholic still the favorite in 6A Oregon football? Attitude and work ethic will tell the story of deep and talented Rams
“It was Stryder’s night tonight. In a surprisingly botched match between champions Oregon and Washington, Stryder Todd-Fields’ big plays lift Central Catholic against Camas
Clackamas and the Central Catholic Church compete for the summit of Mount Hood
No. 1 Central Catholic 38, No. 5 Clackamas 20: Riley Williams, Rams clear all doubts as national audiences watch Mount Hood title fight
Looming Oregon Ducks career away from mind of Emar’rion Winston as he prepares to lead central Catholic defense in Holy War 6A semifinals
Central Catholic fights Jesuits in Holy War semi-final, will face Tualatin for second consecutive 6A title
Central Catholic Church calls on “independent contractors” to help secure victory over Jesuits and “frankness”