Abdoulaye Kamagate wanted to be more than just a kicker.
Kamagate, now a senior at Frankford High School, was a star soccer player for the Pioneers since he entered the school, and he also served as the kicker on the football team.
He’s a high-level soccer player who enjoys success at the club level, but when he was at football practice and games, he wanted to do a little more. So when he was a sophomore, he started playing a little wide receiver and a little defensive back.
Now, he’s the team’s top receiver and lockdown cornerback, while still kicking and playing soccer.
“It’s not too tiring, really, I just know when I’m tired, I get a lot of sleep,” said Kmagate, a Summerdale resident who plays for the Philadelphia Ukrainians club soccer team, where he plays center back and center midfield. “I go to soccer games. When it’s practice, I go to football practice. And if we have games on the same day, I go to football. Soccer, I play all year, so I can not go to practice sometimes. I try to focus on football.”
Kamagate and his teammates are very focused this year, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The Pioneers have played six games, five in their division, all victories, and the next team that scores on them will be the first.
Led by first-year head coach Damon Brockington, a former star linebacker at the school, Frankford has outscored its opponents 210-0.
The school record for consecutive shutouts was in 1933, when the Pioneers held their opponents scoreless in games two through seven. Their record for shutouts in a season was in 2003, when they had eight. These records are according to tedsilary.com.
The closest a team has come to scoring against the Pioneers was Friday when Central advanced the ball to the three-yard line before it was stuffed and fumbled in a 44-0 Frankford victory.
“We’re just so focused on stopping people, that’s all we want to do,” said Kamagate, who caught three balls for 102 yards and a touchdown in Friday’s win. “The coaches won’t let us not focus. They always tell us that we have to be focused. And that’s all we have to do. If we stay focused, we can shut down anyone.
“It’s a lot of fun. It is pretty stressful though because we don’t want to let anyone score on us. Every time we’re out there, we know that we have to keep that streak alive. We don’t want anyone scoring on us. Frankford loves defense, and we’re trying to bring that back.”
Kamagate is having the time of his life, even though he doesn’t see a lot of action.
The Pioneers have great pass rushers who make it hard for teams to throw on them. But when they do, they usually look away from Kamagate.
He’s become a shutdown corner, and this year he has picked off two passes when quarterbacks have challenged him. The problem is their opponents don’t find a lot of success in other areas of the field, either.
“All of the players are good, I don’t see a lot, but the other side is really good, too,” Kamagate said. “It’s not one player, really, it’s the whole defense. I like that teams are afraid to throw at me, but the other side is great, too. There’s really nowhere you can go against us.”
Kamagate has grown into a good football player in short order.
He had the advantage of being a great athlete from soccer. He also stars on the Pioneers lacrosse team, where he’s a long-stick and short-stick midfielder, and he plans on playing both soccer and lacrosse in college. Football is just something he plans on doing during his high school days.
Growing up, it’s not only something he wouldn’t have considered, it was something he didn’t even know about.
“I was born in Africa, Ivory Coast, so football was new to me,” said Kamagate, who came to the United States in 2015. “No football, none. It’s soccer and basketball. No lacrosse, either. I didn’t play either sport until I got here.
“I have family there and they never saw it until I started sending them (videos). They love it. They think it’s a very strange sport, especially with the helmets. But they love seeing it.”
Kamagate hopes in a few weeks, he can send videos of the Pioneers winning a Public League championship.
They’re definitely on the right track.
“I’m not surprised where we are, I knew we were good enough to win, but I didn’t think, I don’t think anyone thought we would play defense like this,” said Kamagate, who is the captain of the junior ROTC program at Frankford. “Our coach tells us how good our defense is when we just do our job. I do my job, the other guys do their job. If we do that, we can keep winning. We have the talent.”
He also has a game plan for beyond high school, and he hopes he continues to be around sports even after he graduates from college.
“I want to major in business and sports management,” said Kamagate, who is an A and B student in the classroom. “I always want to be around sports. I hope to play for a long time, and I can do other things. Maybe be an agent, or a coach. There’s a lot you can do. I definitely want my future to be in sports.”