Diamond, gridiron? Tough choice for John Curtis’ Calvin Linden _lowres

Calvin Linden, John Curtis football and baseball player

Calvin Linden was watching TV and saw former New Orleans Saints kicker John Carney one day when he made the decision.

“I saw him out there warming up, and I remember saying ‘I want to be one of those guys,’ ” Linden said.

So Linden decided to become a kicker.

That decision has led to a tougher decision now for Linden, a senior first baseman for John Curtis.

“I grew up playing both sports,” said Linden. “Now as I get closer and closer to graduation, I keep asking myself what sport I want to go for in college. It’s probably been my toughest decision.

“Right now I am leaning towards baseball, but I may play both. If I got a chance to do both, I would be extremely blessed.”

But for now, Linden is focusing on his final games on the baseball field for Curtis, which plays University High at 3 p.m. Friday in the Class 3A semifinals in Sulphur.

The senior has put up eye-popping numbers in what has been a breakout season on the diamond.

The team’s clean-up batter has a team-best .509 batting average with 38 RBIs, 15 doubles, four triples and two home runs.

“He has had an outstanding season,” Patriots coach Johnny Curtis said. “He was coming off a good campaign, not a great one, as a junior. We were looking for someone to fill in that four-hole spot because we lost a couple guys last year. He was able to step into that role, and that role isn’t an easy one to step into.”

Linden is in the heart of a lineup for the Patriots, who are batting .354 as a team with a .475 on-base percentage.

“He has really taken it like a champ,” Curtis said. “It allowed the three and the five hitters to get better pitching. It’s just caused a trickle down effect all the way through our lineup.”

Linden likes both sports, but gives baseball a slight nod when asked to choose his favorite of the two.

“Playing football here, you have that mindset that you are probably a little bit better than the team you are about to step on the field with,” he said. “But anything can happen in baseball. So you have to bring you’re ‘A’ game.”

Linden plans to attend Louisiana-Lafayette in the fall, where he is contemplating walking on in both sports.

He averaged 34 yards per punt as a senior, including a long of 52 yards and three punts inside the 2-yard line. Linden made 2 of 4 field goal attempts, with a season-long of 36 yards. He also made 25 extra points.

“He definitely has a Division I leg, but he has to refine his skills,” Curtis said.

Linden’s most memorable kicks came in the Superdome as a sophomore when he booted a pair of field goals in the championship game against Winnfield. It was the first of three straight championships he has helped Curtis win.

He keeps the three championship rings beside his bed. He’d like nothing more than add a fourth, this one in baseball.

“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “Most kids don’t even get to play for one championship in one sport. To have the opportunity to play in two in the same year is unbelievable. It’s definitely something I will remember.”