You might say that South Dakota School of Mines placekicker Enis Sefa was a little too juiced after he and his teammates pulled off a fake field goal attempt for a 19-yard gain and a 1st and goal Saturday against New Mexico Highlands at O’Harra Stadium.
The redshirt freshman, filling in for an injured Robbie Jo Gerarden, did his part to perfection, pretending to kick the ball while the holder — backup quarterback Tom Creese — ran downfield to the 4-yard line.
Sefa grabbed the football in celebration and give it a friendly spike to the Dunham Field turf. He was flagged for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, but the Hardrockers would score three plays later on a 14-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jake Sullivan.
It was more like “grabbing the ball and throwing it on the floor being happy,” according to Sefa , a native of Kosovo, who didn’t know it was a penalty.
“Our team motto is to be juiced, which means enthusiastic,” Sefa said. “We always want to be excited, whatever the play will be. I basically got a little too excited there. The unsportsmanlike conduct wasn’t really something that I like to have. It was an exciting play and I wanted to celebrate it with the team.”
Sefa replaced Gerarden against Adams State and was 4-for-4 on points after touchdown kicks. He then kicked his first career field goal against Highlands from 34 yards and was a perfect 7-for-7 in PAT’s in the 52-14 win over the Cowboys.
“I was very excited to kick the ball and I proved myself. I’m hoping to help the School of Mines team in the future,” Stefa said.
Born in a war-torn country, Sefa moved to the United States (Houston) 4½ years ago with his parents, Faton and Elvane, who followed their two oldest children to the states — son Fanar, who graduated from South Dakota School of Mines in 2008 and daughter Valina, who graduated from Oklahoma State University.
Enis Sefa played high school soccer in Texas before taking up football his senior year.
“Now it is all about football,” Sefa said.
“Unfortunately, I can’t do any more than kicking the football. I am happy to do whatever is possible. If it is the case of a field goal or if it is the case of a PAT, or a kickoff, I will do the best job to help my team to succeed. That is my goal.”
From a family of engineers — his father is a mechanical engineer and his brother is a chemical engineer — Enis is studying to be a mechanical engineer.
“I wanted to be an engineer and I thought that South Dakota School of Mines would be the school for me. I didn’t want to be the guy who all he did was study; I wanted to do sports,” he said.
Rapid City orthodontist, Dr. Richard Meyer, takes a little credit for getting Sefa to Mines, as he befriended Fanar when he was at the school. When Meyer and his wife, Gayla, went to Europe on vacation, he contacted the Sefas and they showed him around for a week.
“We met Enis when he was about 9 years old; he was a kid with a soccer ball in his hands all of the time,” Meyer said. “We’re excited about having him here at the School of Mines and watching him play. He’s not just a football player, but he is a phenomenal student as well.”
Part of the old Yugoslavia, Kosovo broke away from Serbia during a civil war in the late 1990s.
“My country has been through a lot of stuff,” Sefa said. “I was born in a war, and eight months old when the war ended against Serbia. I love my country. In our hearts we are all Albanians. We believe in the red and black flag (the Albania flag). The country is coming together slowly.”
Sefa has said it was a struggle early coming over to the United States, but he said he is proud of how he has adapted.
“If you put a person in a different country with a different culture and language, it is very hard,” he said. “When I first got here, I didn’t know how to say hi, hello and goodbye. But I worked hard to learn the language and be who I am now.”
On the football field, Sefa is adapting as well and said he is willing to do anything to help the Hardrockers win. He knows the job will be Gerarden’s when he returns from injury. Gerarden set a Mines school record with career PAT (94) and was a RMAC Preseason Special Teams Player of the Year.
“Robbie Jo is a great kicker, the best kicker in the RMAC,” Sefa said. “Being a friend with him has been very helpful for me. I learned a lot from him. I like him as a person and I am very upset that he is hurt. I always promise him that I will be able to cover his back when he needs me to. I believe he has trust in me and I have trust in him coming back and to play with us. I’m happy that I get a chance to play, but I miss him too.”
The Hardrockers, 3-3, return to action Saturday when they host Colorado School of Mines (1 p.m.).
RMAC Player of the Week
Eystin Salum, Colorado Mesa
Salum accounted for six touchdowns and 359 yards of total offense in the Mavericks’ win over Black Hills State. The junior rushed for 87 yards and three scores and threw for 275 yards and three touchdowns.
Blake Nelson, Colorado Mesa
Nelson recorded a career-high 3.5 sacks, blocked a kick, and had two quarterback hurries in the Mavericks’ win over Black Hills State. The senior tied for the game-high with eight tackles.
Kyle Rosenbrock, CSU-Pueblo
Rosenbrock blocked a punt, recovered the ball, then returned it 35 yards to the end zone for the program’s second blocked punt for a touchdown since its restart in 2008.
RMAC Statistical Leaders
Rushing (rushes, yards, yards per game)
1. Cameron Mayberry-CSM 128-774, 129.0
2. Phydell Paris-BHSU 150-693, 115.5
3. Marche Dennard-CSUP 67-600, 100.0
4. Kevin Thompson-SDSMT 122-592, 98.7
5. Corey Brown-ASU 106-589, 98.2
Passing (completions, attempts, yards, yards per game)
1. Nick Rooney-ASU 131-229, 1650, 330.0
2. Ryan Hommel-BHSU 109-212, 1424 13 59 284.8
3. Jake Sullivan-SDSMT 118-207, 1548, 258.0
4. E. Salum-CMU 88-154, 1433, 238.8
5. Dalton Holst-CSC 110-218, 1311, 218.5
Receiving (catches, yards, yards per game)
1. Brandon LaBrie-SDSMT 37-569, 113.8
2. Chad Hovasse-ASU 37-605, 100.8
3. Marquese Surrel-ASU 38-599, 99.8
4. Brody Oliver-CSM 37-568, 94.7
5. Jackson Dickerson-CSC 42-427, 71.2
Tackles (solo, assisted, total)
1. Thayer Sauter-BHSU 26-43, 69
2. Garrett Jackson-ASU 39-18, 57
3. Brandon Payer-CSUP 41-21, 62
4. Keenan Johnson-CSC 30-27, 57
5. D. Stickney-FLC 22-29, 51