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Mater Dei kicker Chase Meyer draws inspiration from father’s cancer battle

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VIDEO | 01:48
Mater Dei’s Chase Meyer

Chase Meyer.

Ninth and final in a series of stories profiling top high school players in the Southland by position.

Chase Meyer of Santa Ana Mater Dei is an Eagle Scout. He can build a fire, fix a toilet, put up a tent, cook, even mount one of those 60-inch flat-screen TVs and put the wires in the right places. He has a 4.3 grade-point average and plans to study mechanical engineering in college.

He has the “whole package,” as any college recruiter would say. His specialty on the football field is kicking. His father, brother and sister all played soccer. “It was in my blood to kick balls,” he said.

At 10, he joined a youth football team. At first, he played defensive end and linebacker, but no one wanted to be the kicker. He tried out and made a 30-yard field goal. “You know what, this might be the position I can play,” he told himself.

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A star was born. He has plunged full steam ahead by learning fundamentals from professionals and going on the camp circuit. Last spring for the Monarchs, he sent 23 of his 36 kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks. He was 27 of 27 on conversion kicks and four of five on field goals. He also delivered a touchdown-saving tackle on a kickoff against Bellflower St. John Bosco.

He has flourished despite facing a test no teenager should have to undergo — dealing with his father’s ups and downs with cancer. Meyer played for West Hills Chaminade as a freshman and sophomore, then moved to Costa Mesa with his family so his father, Peter, could be closer to medical care.

His new coaches, classmates and friends have helped him every step of the way, telling him they are always available to talk, to support, to lean on when there’s a bad day.

But the most important person inspiring and motivating Meyer is his father.

“It’s been tough,” Meyer said. “He’s taught me even though it’s hard, even though you don’t want to get up, you have to get up and keep pushing and keep going. He is the true definition of perseverance. He shows me every day you can’t give up.”

Neither his father nor his mother was able to attend any of his five games last spring, but they watched at home, either on television or on a computer. The word was dad was jumping out of bed after Chase made a big kick. And there’s encouraging news after many surgeries, radiation treatments and chemotherapy. Peter continues to progress and is hopeful of attending games this fall, possibly joining the team on a road trip to Texas on Aug. 27 for a game against Duncanville.

Kicker Chase Meyer kneels on a football field with a red duffle bag at his feet.
Kicker Chase Meyer of Santa Ana Mater Dei.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

“It’s pushed me ahead,” Meyer said. “It’s given me strength that others don’t have.”

He said his mother, Annamarie, also has served as inspiration by the way she has taken care of his father.

“She’s literally an angel,” he said. “She’s always showed me what it means to have strength.”

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There are few things Meyer doesn’t do well. When he was in middle school at Westlake Village Oaks Christian, he built a campus prayer garden as part of his project to become an Eagle Scout. He also has two Eagle Palms, which are merit badges beyond the 21 required to become an Eagle Scout.

He came to Mater Dei not knowing what to expect but has embraced coach Bruce Rollinson’s focus on developing “pride, poise and courage.” Unlike many kickers who like to be in their own little world, Meyer welcomes being part of the team, joining teammates when lifting weights, attending competitions and listening to all talks. He has his own little routine, though, before games.

“I’m a creature of habit,” he said. “I do like to eat the same thing every day.”

So it’s protein pancakes for breakfast and a chicken bowl for lunch. And if the team needs him, he’ll be ready for any pressure-filled kick.

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“At the end of the day, if I become complacent or satisfied with how I am, then I’m never going to be able to grow to compete at next level,” he said.

Wednesday: The Times’ top 25 preseason football rankings.

Kickers/punters to watch

Kian Afrookhteh, Dana Hills, 5-6, 170, Sr. Made six of eight field goals in spring.

Chase Barry, JSerra, 6-5, 215, Sr. Averaged 38.7 on punts in the spring.

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Ryan Ewing, Mission Viejo, 6-2, 175, Sr. Had 45-yard field goal during spring season.

Aidan Flintoft, Oaks Christian, 6-1, 188, Jr. Earned top punter ranking at summer camps.

Sean Harry, San Clemente, 6-3, 175, Sr. Made game-winning kick vs. Mission Viejo.

Michael Luckhurst, Bishop Diego, 6-3, 180, Sr. From 55 yards and in, he’s good.

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Chase Meyer, Mater Dei, 5-11, 185, Sr. Carries 4.3 GPA and makes clutch kicks.

Nicholas Pasquarella, Alta Loma, 6-1, 185, Sr. Four of four on FGs with a long of 49.

Brady Weinberg, Apple Valley, 5-8, 140, Sr. Was 13 of 13 on PATs in spring.

Tate Zimmerman, Irvine, 6-1, 200, Sr. Athlete who averaged 41.3 yards on punts.


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