Leilani Armenta came to Jackson State University to play soccer, but made history once as a kicker on the football team when she entered Saturday’s game against Bethune-Cookman (JSU’s opening home game). As an on-field kicker, she became the first female player for the JSU Tigers. The second footnote in history is that she became the first female to play on a Division One HBCU football team when JSU played against Bethune-Cookman on September 23.
Last Saturday, October 28, Armenta added to her historic exploits by kicking three extra points in the game against Mississippi Valley State University. As a result of that feat, she became the first female to score in an HBCU football game and in Division One football.
Armenta hails from Ventura, California, graduating from Saint Bonaventure High School. During her time on her high school team, she scored on 98 out of 105 extra point attempts and on 5 out of 5 field goals as a kicker. She, nevertheless, had been out of the kicking game since that time due to leg injuries.
Despite her absence from the field for so long, based upon her past record and how she had performed in practice, the freshman was called upon to handle the duty of place kicker during the Bethune-Cookman game. Coach T.C. Taylor turned to her in the absence of injured kicker Gerardo Baeza. He was cautious and did not call upon her to attempt any extra points and left the punting duties to Matt Noll; however, Taylor left the kick-offs in her hands. Then in the game against Mississippi Valley State University, he showed full confidence in her, sending her into the game and into history by kicking three straight extra points.
Many JSU fans are now anxiously following her development as well as praying for Baeza’s return from his injuries and the continued success of Dylan Wasson, the sophomore walk-on from Germantown High School. With Armenta, history has been made and things can only get better for the rest of this season and next year with three top kickers.