A chance encounter with a former Green Bay Packer and — of all things — the COVID-19 quarantine helped make Wajskol a star of college football for the undefeated Rams.
By Dan Brood | Photos of Leon Neuschwander
By his own admission, Asher Wajskol has 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 main kicker/punter and a big-shot weapon for special teams, for the undefeated Rams football team that will play for the Class 6A State Championship on Saturday.
“It’s crazy,” Wajskol said. “It’s my first year at university – not just in football, but in any sport.”
Crazy and, well, you could say, weird.
“I had a strange journey to get here,” Wajskol, now down at 6-0, 165, said with a laugh. “My best friend (Luca Rodarte, senior central Catholic) is the long snapper here. I just started helping him, taking pictures for him. When I was doing that, I just started doing a few.
It turned out to be something Wajskol enjoyed – and he wasn’t too bad.
That’s when other oddities, in the form of circumstances, occurred.
“I just bumped into (former Green Bay Packers punter) Justin Vogel at Delta Park. I spoke to him and he helped me,” Wajskol said. “I started kicking and kicking that summer, but I wasn’t good at all.”
But that didn’t matter. Wajskol was addicted.
At this point, Wajskol’s sports experience in high school was being a small goalie on the JV2 boys soccer team at Central Catholic.
Then something not really strange, but very unfortunate, happened – COVID-19.
With COVID-19 came quarantine.
Although, of course, no one enjoyed the quarantine, in its own weird way, it might have turned out to be a good thing for Wajskol.
“I grew a bit during my quarantine and put on some muscle,” he said.
Wajskol also decided to quit playing football and focus on football.
“I was there every day, working on kicks and clearances,” 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 standout senior kicker Atticus Sappington, who played in the 2021 Les Schwab Bowl en route to joining the Oregon State football team. this autumn.
But Wajskol kept working hard.
“I knew Atticus would leave and I would have a chance to kick,” Wajskol said.
That’s when he got help from his best friend, Rodarte, who is ranked the No. 1 senior long snapper prospect in the state and No. 21 nationally by Rubio Long Snapping.
“I met (former University of Idaho kicker/punter) Austin Rehkow through Luca, and worked through everything with him,” Wajskol said. “He helped me with everything with kicks and kicks, and he also helped me with the mental side of things, staying calm and playing under pressure. I have to say he helped me. helped as much as anyone.
Wajskol also started participating in kicking camps.
“The kicking camps were a very good opportunity. I’m going to Chris Sailer’s camps,” Wajskol said. “If you have 100 kickers, you see where you stand. You also make a lot of good connections. I met Soren McKee there (Summit High School’s standout kicker/kicker). I kind of followed the same path as Soren (who was the goalie for Summit State Championship men’s soccer team this fall). I was the goalie for the JV2 football team here at Central during my freshman and sophomore years. I was all 5-2 and 100 lbs. Soren is great. He’s ranked ahead of me, but I’ve had him on points scored this season.
Points. Yes, Wajskol scored a bunch for the big power central Catholic attack.
Wajskol scored 83 more points, and he went 3-for-4 on field goal attempts with a length of 39 yards. That gives him 92 points to enter Saturday’s title chase.
Wajskol also excelled as a punter for the Rams, averaging 37 yards per punt.
Wajskol, for his efforts in the Mt. Hood Conference play, was a second-team all-conference selection as a kicker and honorable mention as a punter.
“I really like kicking. I think it’s super fun,” Wajskol said. so much fun. Kickoffs may be my weakest aspect, but I think that will come when I get older.
But even the kickoffs were pretty good for Wajskol. He has 50 touchbacks this season, while mixing plenty of squib kicks and line-drive 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 Jesuit in last week’s Class 6A semi-final at Hillsboro Stadium.
Wajskol went 5 for 5 on extra kicks. He also helped set the tone for the game, kicking off the opening kickoff for a touchback. Late in the first half, with the score tied at 7-7, Wajskol kicked a 44-yard punt, the ball passing the Jesuit returner and being brought down on the Crusaders 26-yard line with 1 minute left. and 47 seconds remaining in the second quarter. From there, Jesuit would get a first down before time ran out.
“With punting, you want to get as much distance as possible. I try to overturn the pitch,” Wajskol said. “You want to set the other team up 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 Central Catholic senior Stryder Todd-Fields with 3:23 left in the third quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Wajskol hit a line-drive punch, with the Jesuit returner having to put his knee on the turf to line the ball up – at the Crusaders 3-yard line.
“At kickoffs, we change things up to keep the returning teams on their toes,” Wajskol said. “And we have a very good cover team.”
Three plays after kickoff, senior Catholic center Jordan King intercepted a Jesuit pass and returned the ball 14 yards for a Rams touchdown.
“Pick 6 was a really good time for me,” Wajskol said. “I was pretty excited about it.”
King’s touchdown increased the Rams’ lead to 28-14. Central Catholic would hold off a late Jesuit rally to win 35-28.
The Rams (14-0) will now face Tualatin (12-1) on Saturday Class 6A State Championship Match at noon at Hillsboro Stadium.
“We’re really excited about this,” Wajskol said. “It’s a great opportunity for everyone to continue showing what we can do. I don’t think we have any real weaknesses.
As for the future, Wajskol hopes to play football at the college level, 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, though, Wajskol has something else on his schedule: capping off his first college athletic season by appearing in Saturday’s state championship game.
“I’m excited for this,” he said. “I’ll be ready.”
The journey – the strange journey – continues.