It didn’t take long for Lewis Ward to become one of the Ottawa Redblacks’ most dependable players.
The rookie kicker hit all five of his field goal attempts, including two 47-yard boots, in the Redblacks’ 29-25 victory over the visiting B.C. Lions last week.
“Having the game that I had last game gives me a bit more confidence,” the 25-year-old said. “I hadn’t really been tested yet this year with the exception of last week with the two long ones so that gives me a small level of comfort, but we still have to stay focused moving forward.”
Ward has successfully kicked a 51-yard field goal in college with the University of Ottawa and once hit from 60 yards in practice with the Redblacks, but his goal is to remain consistent.
A relative unknown to his teammates to start the season, Ward has quickly earned their respect with his performance.
“If we don’t score a touchdown and we’re going for the field goal I’m running off the field thinking that it’s already made because that’s the confidence we have in him,” said Ottawa receiver Brad Sinopoli. “I think it’s awesome what he’s done. He didn’t come in here as an automatic guy who was going to make the team and be the kicker so for him to compete and fight and really come out of nowhere and do what he’s done is great to see.”
Ward, who worked security at TD Place last year, and said it’s sometimes strange to enter the stadium as a player.
“Pre-game I’ll go say hi to a lot of the guys working since I still know a lot of the faces,” he said. “It’s definitely a little different.”
Ward has already earned himself a personal cheering squad as some of the hometown fans began chanting “Rudy” as he took the field last game.
Being compared to the beloved character from the 1993 football film made Ward laugh.
“That’s brand new to me, I heard it the last game,” said Ward, with a laugh. “I’ll take it as a compliment”
Generously listed at five-foot-seven and 175 pounds, Ward chose not to answer when asked how tall he really is.
Growing up in Kingston, Ont., Ward was an active child and took up football in high school where he had success both as a kicker and receiver. During his second year with the Gee-Gees he focused solely on kicking and went on to shatter school and conference records.
He left university second in all-time career field goals (89) and third all-time in points scored (412).
In his final season with the Gee-Gees Ward handled both punting and kicking duties, but the Redblacks believe field goals are his strength.
Redblacks head coach Rick Campbell said he has been impressed early on by Ward both on and off the field.
“It’s nice to know when you think highly of a guy and you’re actually right and it comes through because it doesn’t always work out that way,” said Campbell.
“He’s very steady and very sound in what he does. I’m proud of him and good job by him, but I’m certainly not surprised by it.”