As he trotted out onto the field Saturday morning with his Chaminade-Madonna team locked in a 28-28 tie with West Palm Beach Oxbridge Academy and just eight seconds on the clock, it might have been a pretty lonely moment for Lions placekicker Daniel Longman.
It was time for a 19-yard field goal. What was on the line? Only a state championship, that’s all.
Only it wasn’t quite so lonely for him.
That’s because Longman felt like he had somebody right there with him.
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Extremely close to his grandfather Robert Longman, Daniel lost him six weeks ago when he passed away unexpectedly.
The snap and hold were perfect, and Longman drilled the kick right down the middle giving the Lions a dramatic 31-28 victory in the Class 3A state championship game at Camping World Stadium. And with it came the program’s third ever state title and first since 2005.
“My first thought was that I wish he could’ve been here to see it and then after I thought about it, I realized that he was right there with me on my shoulder when I walked out there,” said Longman, holding back tears, voice cracking with emotion. “I loved gramps, we were so close and it was a difficult moment for me when I lost him, especially since it was a few days before my birthday.”
When the kick went through and before his teammates could get there to mob him, Longman looked up to the sky, pumped his heart with his right hand and took a bow, perhaps thanking “gramps” for helping him through the pressure-packed moment.
“At that moment, you’re trying not to think about what’s on the line,” said Longman when asked about the game-winning kick. “You’re just simply going through your mechanics, trusting your blocks, your snapper, your holder and that everyone is going to do their job and then I would do mine. Daelen (holder Daelen Menard) did a great job of putting the ball down perfectly and it was just a matter of drilling it.”
And drill it he did. Right down the middle, a moment only a handful of placekickers growing up can only dream about having an opportunity to do.
Longman became a valuable part of Chaminade’s run to state this season, not only for his place-kicking accuracy, but with his ability to flip the field on punts and powerful leg on kickoffs.
“He worked out this year, got in the weight room and those touchbacks on kickoffs have been a key for our defense,” Chaminade coach Dameon Jones said. “Making people have to go 80 yards every time is tough. He changes the fields on punts. You're nothing without your offense or defense, but he helps our defense out tremendously.”
Longman made 58 of 59 extra point attempts this season and 19 of 20 field goals tries with a long of 49 yards.
“It’s crazy because growing up and taking all those practice kicks, sure you kind of have that dream in the back of your head that ‘here we go, this is for the state championship,’ ” said Longman, a senior who is headed to Boston College and will walk on to try and win a placekicking job for the Eagles. “For that to actually happen the way it did for me? For it to come down to me? It’s just an incredible feeling and I’m sure gramps was up there smiling down on me today and I’m sure I made him proud.”