The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have found their new kicker.
The club announced this morning the addition of Louie Sakoda, the former Saskatchewan Roughrider import kicker and University of Utah star who went undrafted in the NFL in 2009 despite being considered the top kicking prospect. He will be on the field when the Bombers return to practice this morning and replaces Alexis Serna, who has been released.
Serna missed two short field goals in Saturday's loss in Hamilton, from 28 and 32 yards, and has been good on just 8 of 14 (57.1 per cent) so far this season. He spent 2 1/2 years with the Bombers and posted a 71.9 field-goal percentage during that time.
''At this time we felt we had to make a decision and move forward in regards to our place-kicking situation. It is one of the most valuable positions on a football field and we simply needed more consistent production at that spot. Alexis is a great person and has been a valuable part of this organization. We thank him for his services to the Winnipeg Football Club'', said Blue Bombers vice-president and general manager of football operations Joe Mack.
A consensus first-team All-American with Utah in 2008, Sakoda was signed by the San Diego Chargers after going undrafted before venturing north to join the Roughriders last fall.
He averaged 44.5 yards on 13 punts last season and punted six times for an average of 48.1 yards in the Grey Cup.
Sakoda spent four seasons at Utah where he connected on 57 of 66 career field goals for an 86 per cent average. He was the only unanimous Consensus All-American in Utah history and was a first-team All-American punter in 2007 and place-kicker in 2008. He was a two-time Lou Groza Award semifinalist as the top place-kicker in college football.
Interestingly, the previous Bomber regime had Sakoda on their negotiation list before trading his rights to the Riders in exchange for the rights to former Georgia quarterback D.J. Shockley.
But Sakoda was released earlier this month by the Riders after struggling with his punting -- chores he would not handle with the Bombers with Mike Renaud the incumbent -- and being replaced by Eddie Johnson.
The Bombers had also contacted former Toronto placekicker Justin Medlock, but he is chasing an NFL opportunity. Sakoda does have a connection with current Bomber head coach Paul LaPolice, who was with the Roughriders when the kicker arrived there last fall.