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Football Millikan

FEATURE: Millikan Kicker Jayden Icasiano Gets By With A Little Help From His Mom

The562’s coverage of football in 2023-24 is sponsored in part by the MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center Foundation and Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital Foundation.

The562’s coverage of Millikan athletics in the 2023-24 school year is sponsored by Curtis Boyer.

The first time Jayden Icasiano ever kicked a football his mom Jasmine was his holder.

“Yeah it was scary the first time he did it, I was screaming,” Jasmine said. “I was like closing my eyes while he’s kicking it and letting go.”

Icasiano had played soccer all of his life, but learning to kick a football was brand new.

“Of course the first times weren’t pretty, but after a few times practicing I kind of saw a glimpse of what I could do,” Icasiano said.

That was three and half years ago.

Last Friday, Icasiano made three field goals for Millikan, including a 42-yarder, in an overtime loss to Long Beach Poly at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

“To kick it on a big stage like that against nationally-ranked Poly really meant a lot to me,” Icasiano said. “Four years ago I would’ve never imagined myself being in that position.”

Icasiano is a quiet kid who grew up in Lakewood and Long Beach while playing as much soccer as he could with AYSO and FC Premier. He fell in love with the sport because he was naturally good and it matched his mindset.

“When I want to be good at something I work until I’m good at it,” he said. “It’s my competitive nature, and it’s that way with everyone I do in life, school work or on the field… I wanna be first.”

During his seventh grade season, Icasiano broke his leg on a non-contact play while trying to cross the ball. That moment changed his life because he said when he tried to to come back as an eighth grader something wasn’t right.

“I didn’t feel like I was the same player,” Icasiano said. “I didn’t feel as strong, fast and athletic as I was. I also wasn’t fit because it took a big toll on my health. I just didn’t feel good.”

Icasiano left his club that year but planned to play soccer at Millikan when he entered high school. Then COVID shut everything down, and he was left out of shape with no sports to play.

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Jasmine, who ran track at Long Beach Poly, put together a workout program for her son that they would do at Long Beach State. During that time when a friend from school told Icasiano that the Millikan freshman football team needed a kicker, Icasiano was willing to try anything to stay active.

“I was like, ‘Kinging a football can’t be that hard,’ so that day I got a football from my closet and I told my mom to hold it and I just kicked it,” he recalled.

“I’ve always done everything with him since I put him in sports when he was four years old,” Jasmine said. “I’m the one throwing the ball with him ever since he was little. I was running right next to him working out during COVID… I know nothing about football. I just know my son wants to do it. I still hold the ball for him in the offseason. I’m getting better.”

That innate drive led Icasiano into winning the kicking responsibilities for Millikan. He has made 22 of his 23 extra point tries in three seasons for the Rams, and is eight for 10 on field goals this season. 

“It’s two completely different motions,” Icasiano said of kicking a soccer ball and a football. “With a soccer ball you try to cross your body. That doesn’t really work for football. If you cross your body you’re going to hook it left. With football you try to keep your hips forward to the target, and you kind of do a skip. You kick it and try to skip forward so all your momentum goes forward and your kick is straight.”

All of that teaching came to a head last season when Millikan played Cypress in the CIF playoffs and Icasiano missed a late field goal.

“I could’ve put the game with that field goal,” he said. “We would’ve been up 10 late in the fourth quarter if I made that 33-yard field goal on the left hash. But I hooked it left. I blame it on my technique. So the whole offseason I dedicated all my time and effort to getting my technique right.”

The reverberation of that miss echoed throughout Icasiano’s life.

“That was a rough offseason,” Jasmine said. “He is a very competitive person and he thought about that every single day in the offseason. He’s super quiet and doesn’t show a lot of emotions but after the Cypress game it tore him up. It tore the whole family up because he was miserable for months after that.”

Dedication to his craft and not settling for average is the reason Icasiano is one of the best kickers in the CIF Southern Section. It’s also the reason why mom is so proud.

“To see him make that 42-yarder (against Poly) was emotional because I know how hard he worked and how bad he wanted it,” Jasmine said. “What makes a great athlete is how they recover from those losses. It was just the best feeling in the whole wide world as a mom who has been right next to him in all of his sports endeavors since he was four year old. It was the most amazing feeling. It makes me emotional.”

VIDEO: Long Beach Poly vs. Millikan, Football
JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.