The ground had been soaked by a heavy rain the night before and a sun that wasn’t warm enough to dry the puddles that had been created on the field.
Despite the wet conditions, the Southern Boone County football team had already stormed to an early lead over Winfield in the district semifinals game.
Senior kicker Parker Boyce attempted two field goals earlier in the game and was preparing for a kickoff, setting the ball on the tee and taking three steps back, two over.
At the sound of the whistle, the ball sailed, but it didn’t sail as far as it typically does for the all-state kicker. This kickoff landed in the arms of a Winfield returner outside the end zone, where he rushed for a short gain to the 22-yard line.
Frustration was evident in Boyce’s body language as he jogged back to the sideline.
For him, used to kicking the ball out of the end zone and forcing touchbacks, giving the opposition a chance to return a kickoff was something he just didn’t do. It was like letting down his team.
But that’s not the only reason a touchback means so much to this kicker.
“It kind of sucks when I miss. It all means more,” Boyce said.
They just mean more.
Since his sophomore year of high school, every kick has meant more than a game of football for Parker. After signing up with Kick-It, he has raised money during the football season for pediatric cancer research.
In the three years his campaign has been active, he and the Southern Boone High School community have raised over $7,500 for research. That funds over three weeks’ worth of research for a field that receives the smallest percentage of money in overall cancer funding. He’s one of two high school kickers in the state of Missouri and the only one in mid-Missouri that has used the football season to raise money with Kick-It.
Parker began kicking at a young age and grew to love the special teams position that is held by humble, straightforward guys that are reliable and consistent players. Looking to strengthen his craft, he and his father traveled to a Kohl’s Professional Kicking, Punting and Longsnapping camp in the summer of 2016.
It was at this camp that, as a young player who had just completed his first year in high school, Boyce was looking for a chance to ease his nerves and occupy his mind. He found that relief in an informational stand set up by Kick-It. “I signed up and I knew it was just so easy. All I had to do was play football and people would donate money for this cause. It was like, ‘Why wouldn’t I do it?’” he said.
~ Read the full story in today’s Journal ~