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As a Bay Area native, Bishop O’Dowd senior kicker Gabriel Plascencia grew accustomed to watching some of the best special teamers across football.
The nearby Oakland Raiders – now in Las Vegas – featured prolific special teams player after prolific special teams player. Lefty kicker Sebastian Janikowski was drilling 63-yard field goals. Shane Lechler was a top punter. Marquette King consistently boomed punts and danced throughout games.
“I always watched Sebastian Janikowski, and that man was just a whole other body type,” Plascencia said. “He’s just a big guy with a big leg, and that’s kind of like how I am. And he just banged in the 63-year field goal that I think was to tie the longest field goal record. And just his persona. Him, Shane Lechler and then even Marquette King, just the swagger he brought to the field. That kind of energized me to do what I do and just love football.”
But Plascencia’s family members also showed him the way.
His oldest brother was a kicker at UTEP. Another brother played soccer at San Jose State. The other was on the soccer team at the University of San Diego.
That heightened the competition, as everyone wanted to see who was No. 1.
“Anyone that has a brother, you guys want to compete to see who is better, who’s stronger and all of that,” Plascencia said. “And so just having that as well as trying to get a free education to help my parents because I know college tuition is very expensive and not everyone has the means necessary to pay for all that.
“And so to be able to put my family in a situation where they don’t have to pay for college or pay for my tuition or anything like that would be what drives me every day to get better and better.”
From the time Plascencia kicked off his football career as a freshman, he was the next one on a path to greatness and competing at the collegiate level.
Some friends asked if he wanted to play football. So, he decided to give it a try, beginning as a defensive tackle and then becoming the kicker because he played soccer.
One year later, in his first year on varsity, Plascencia kicked the game-winning field goal to beat one of the East Bay’s top programs in Monte Vista – signifying what was to come.
“I just remember everybody was cheering. Matthew Shaddle threw his helmet up for no reason.” Plascencia said. “It was a really exciting moment, and it really opened up my eyes to what football could be for me. It changed my whole heart for football, and now I just love it. It’s everything to me now.”
Just like his idols, Plascencia is drilling long field goals, and colleges are flocking to the private school in Oakland to add his talents to their respective rosters.
Plascencia, who said the longest one he’s ever made is from 60 yards, holds an offer from Pacific University, a Division III school out of Oregon. Multiple Division I schools have expressed interest, too.
Additionally, Plascencia was tabbed a 4.5-star prospect by Chris Sailer Kicking and is on the Paul Assad National Watch List.
During his final ride as a Dragon, Plascencia wants to return Bishop O’Dowd back to the promised land, winning the North Coast Section for the first time since 2018 and more.
“We want to win league. We want to win NCS. We want to win state,” Plascencia said. “I know me, Jesse (Madden) and Shaddy (Matthew Shaddle), we felt like we got snubbed our sophomore year because of the fires, not being able to play in the state championship. That just puts even more just energy in us to go out our last seasons as an O’Dowd Dragon to go and win state.”
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