Toronto Argonauts

 Zenon Andrusyshyn - Kicker/Punter - 1971-77, 80-82 - UCLA

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Brian Snelgrove - CFL.ca - 10-08-2010

It was the longest kick in the history of professional football.

The date was October 23, 1977 when Zenon Andrusyshyn took the snap, stepped forward and launched a 108-yard punt against the Edmonton Eskimos. “I really nailed it,” he says of the record-setting kick. It must have gone about 85 yards in the air.”

“I remember as I came off the field they announced on the PA system that it was the longest punt in CFL history and I said to Leo (Cahill) ‘Wow, I just kicked the longest punt in history’,” Andrusyshyn says with a laugh. “Leo said, ‘I don’t care we’re losing.’”

More than 30 years later the punt remains the longest ever in both the CFL and the NFL.

Zenon Andrusyshyn, forever dubbed the “Big Z”, was a graduate of Oakville-Trafalgar High School and held the Canadian high school record in the javelin for an incredible 35 years.  He set a national record in 1966 and was rewarded with a track and field scholarship to UCLA.

”I went to UCLA in 1967 to throw both the javelin and discus,” says Andrusyshyn who was born in Germany but moved to Oakville with his parents when he was 12 or 13. “I was preparing for the Olympics coming up in Mexico City and suffered a severe arm injury. I decided to go out for the football team as a walk-on. The coach said, ‘What makes you think you can make the UCLA Bruins, we won the Rose Bowl last year? You come out and show me so.’ So I did.”

The “Big Z”, who had been an outstanding soccer player in his youth, went on to become a two-time All American and was named to the Bruins All-Century team.

Andrusyshyn was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 1970 but was released and joined the Argos in 1971. He became one of the most prolific kickers in Toronto Argonaut history (1971-77 and 1980-82) and still holds the record for the longest field goal, a mark he set on September 14, 1980 when he kicked a 57 yarder against Saskatchewan. His career punting average of 44.9 yards per punt is tied with Bernie Ruoff for third best in league history.

A two-time Eastern all-star, Andrusyshyn is second to Noel Prefontaine in career punting on the Argos with a 45.2 yard average and second to Lance     

Zenon Andrusyshyn     UCLA      
  Conv     Field Goal    
Yr Team A G % A G % LG Pts
1971 Tor 3 1 33% 1 0 0% 0 9
1972 Tor 4 3 75% 16 6 38% 45 35
1973 Tor 26 25 96% 37 19 51% 52 100
1974 Tor 24 22 92% 54 32 59% 52 134
1975 Tor 20 20 100% 56 30 54% 54 121
1976 Tor 29 29 100% 38 22 58% 46 102
1977 Tor 22 22 100% 37 23 62% 50 106
1978 Played in NFL            
1979 Ham 16 15 94% 20 10 50% 43 55
1980 Tor 31 31 100% 42 30 71% 57 136
1981 Tor 21 21 100% 25 18 72% 54 91
1982 Tor 24 24 100% 21 11 52% 48 65
Edm 0 0 0% 0 0 0% 0 1
1983 Played in USFL            
1984 Played in USFL            
1985 Played in USFL            
1986 Mtl 24 24 100% 21 11 52% 48 65
Total 12 244 237 97% 368 212 58% 57 1,020

Chomyc in both scoring with 899 points and in field goals with 191.

“He was quite an athlete,” says former Argo Head Coach Leo Cahill. “He kind of stayed to himself but he had the ability to do the things he had to do and he did them very well. I often wonder what he would have been like as a full-time football player at another position. Zenon was a very good all-round athlete.”

“We were the only game in town at that time,” says the “Big Z” of his Argo days in the 70’s.

“It was a really positive experience to have played there for 11 years. We were very close and it really prepared me for life. We had great guys like Profit, Stillwagon, Theismann, Thornton, Nykoluk, Symons and Luster. And Peter Muller was really underrated. He was very well respected, was hard working and was a leader on our team.”

Like many former Boatmen, Andrusyshyn has fond and not so fond memories of the Argos only Grey Cup appearance of the decade in 1971.

“It was phenomenal,” says Andrusyshyn.

“The season starts and boom we’re winning games and the next thing you know we’re heading for the Grey Cup. It looks like we’re about to win when Leon (McQuay) fumbles. Losing was depressing. It was tough. When you get real close like that and don’t win it takes a lot out of you. It was definitely very down in the dressing room. It’s almost like it’s better not to be there than to get that close and lose. I will say one thing. Leon McQuay was the most superior athlete I have ever seen in my life. He was physically the most imposing guy and was 200 pounds of solid muscle. He could run a 4.2 40. He could run straight ahead and sideways almost at the same speed.”

“I was probably a better punter than a kicker,” Andrusyshyn says when asked to compare. “Kicking at the CNE was tough. We had some really bad weather off the lake. But I tried one from 63 yards one time and just missed by about a foot.”

Following his CFL career The “Big Z” moved to Florida in 1987 and has been an ordained minister with the Southern Baptist Denomination for the past 20 years.

He graduated from the Dallas Theological Seminary in 1995 with a Masters in Arts, Biblical Studies and was the Tampa Bay Area Director for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes for two decades.

He has been on numerous missionary trips to countries such as Germany, Panama, England, Mexico and the Ukraine over the years. In October 2007, Andrusyshyn formed his own ministry, Zenon Ministries Inc., a non- profit youth ministry.

Married with two children, he is an avid painter, photographer and writer. He also spends his spare time restoring old cars and periodically coaches local high school and collegiate kickers.

“My fondest memory of those days in the 70’s was being able to get a lot of my friends and family to the games because they were so close in Oakville,” says Andrusyshyn. “I really enjoyed playing in the CFL. We were involved in the community and were always trying to help people.”