The Philadelphia Stars had one consistent weapon they could count on no matter the situation in 2023. It wasn’t Case Cookus, or Corey Coleman, or even Matt Colburn, no it was Luis Aguilar. Few kickers in recent memory have carried a team like he did with the Stars in 2023. Finishing with 94 points in a ten game season certainly begins to show just how valuable Aguilar was for the Stars.
Luis Aguilar Single-handedly Wins a Game
Now if we are being honest, kickers are often called upon in crunch time to send their team over the edge to victory, but its not often that kickers are asked to outscore an opposing team entirely by themselves. That is exactly what the Stars tasked Aguilar with on Sunday May 14th. In week 5 the Stars had fallen to 1-3 and desperately needed a win to get the momentum headed in the right direction. Playing their division rival New Jersey Generals for the fourth time since the USFL relaunch in 2022, Aguilar would kick 20 times on the day counting field goals, punts, and kick-offs. Something we may never see again from any kicker.
Against the New Jersey Generals, the Stars could not seem to finish drives with touchdowns. Instead the Stars called on Aguilar eight times to put points on the board in the form of a field goal, and eight times he came through converting the attempt. Totaling 24 points on the day, he would put up more points than both offenses on the day. The Generals scored 21 points, and couldn’t overcome the leg of Aguilar.
On top of 8 field goals Aguilar punted three times, and kicked off nine times for a total of 20 kicks on the day. It was no surprise to see the Stars finally move away from having their specialist handle all three duties shortly after this game. Aguilar would finish the season 25 of 29 on field goals, and 19 of 20 on extra points leading the league in kicking points with 94. This came after a tough start to the season when Aguilar had been 1 of 3 on field goals and 4 of 5 on extra points to this point after suffering two blocked kicks in week one.
Without Aguilar, Stars Would Have Been 1-9
Then Aguilar started a perfect run of kicks from then on and following this big game he had made 11 straight field goals, and 2 extra points. This was just a small sample size of what Aguilar would do for the Stars in 2023, and they may have finished the season with a 4-6 record, but without Aguilar, the Stars may have been 1-9 their only win coming in week one when the offense scored four touchdowns.
During their week 6 16-10 win over the New Orleans Breakers, Aguilar managed to score 10 points matching the Breakers output as a team. Without those points the Stars lose that game. In week 7 their final win of the season, Aguilar was 3 of 3 on field goals, and 4 of 4 on extra points. This amounted to 13 of the Stars 37 points in a 37-31 game against the Maulers. Through this three game winning streak Luis Aguilar had 47 points, and missed just one kick. He also had been 14 of 15 on field goals, and 7 of 7 on extra points since a rough start to his season.
Needless to say, Stars fans should be thrilled to hear Luis Aguilar has chosen to return for the 2024 season.
One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure
The Houston Gamblers began to clean house releasing a list of players.
Ironically, James Larsen reported on these moves before the league, and seemingly got the information more accurately as well. Given that according to the Gamblers Twitter page, Jordan Steckler was not a part of these cuts, yet signed with the Stars on the 19th. Interesting..
Jordan Steckler is an experienced offensive tackle, who has spent parts of three seasons in the NFL. Originally declaring for the NFL Draft in 2020, during what would be a nonexistent chance to prove himself on the combine and pro-day circuit, it was tough for Steckler to stand apart. He fell undrafted and signed a contract with the New Orleans Saints to attend training camp. He did not make the final roster, and would end up signing with New England’s practice squad for the final 8 weeks of the season.
This time proved to be quite valuable for his development, and the relationships built helped get him a chance to make an active roster in 2021 with Houston. In 2021 Nick Caserio was hired by the Texans as their new General Manager. This naturally meant he would look at bringing in some of his players from the Patriots, and one of those players turned out to be Steckler.
Steckler would make the practice squad, where he remained for the better part of the next two seasons before being released after the 2022 season. He also spent a brief stint with the Browns. Steckler then joined the USFL in February for the 2023 season playing with the Houston Gamblers. He spent the entire 2023 season with the Gamblers only to be released in a wave of cuts after the year.
Steckler joins the Stars as much needed depth at tackle. Jake Burton played admirably being shuffled between positions at times, but the Stars always seemed to be behind the 8 ball when it came to their concerns about offensive line depth in 2023. Many injuries occurred, and due to it the overall performance suffered. Bringing in an experienced linemen and working on solidifying that offensive line is priority number one for the Stars offense this off-season.