In one game, a kicker’s triumphs and trials can take place in a matter of minutes, a story St. Thomas kicker Paul Graupner knows well.
“Toward the end of the game, after you miss that game winner … it’s deflating,” Graupner said.
While he has successfully completed 14 of his 17 kicks so far this season, a notable one sailed left Sept. 21 as St. John’s claimed a 20-18 victory over St. Thomas.
Coach Glenn Caruso said a whole game never comes down to one play.
“There’s 174 plays in a game … I’m sure a lot of people would like to point to that and say, ‘Well, that’s the reason why they didn’t win,’ but that’s one of 174 reasons,” Caruso said.
While Graupner’s 32-yard field goal didn’t seal a Tommie victory, his school record-tying 53-yard field goal just before halftime of the Tommie-Johnnie game was a reason to celebrate.
“Obviously, the snap and the hold are really important, so Zach Novaczyk getting the snap there was great. Dan Ferrazzo does a great job with the holds, so they make it easy for me,” Graupner said. “Regarding the record, it kind of fills you with confidence.”
Caruso said Graupner tying the record is just one example of the sophomore’s capabilities.
“To be able to have that type of weapon in your arsenal and know that you don’t have to get to the 20-yard line before you kick it is very comforting as a coach,” Caruso said.
Special Teams Coordinator Travis Walch said Graupner’s commitment to training adds to his talent.
“He’s definitely putting the time in kicking the ball, and then on top of that he’s probably putting that energy in the mental process you got to have as a kicker and punter,” Walch said.
While ups and downs are the nature of the position, Graupner said the mental process will propel him forward without hitting a speed bump.
“You just have to work through it, have a short-term memory as a kicker and just try to move on to the next one,” Graupner said.
Eden Checkol can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.