The 40-yard dash is still an important part of measuring a football’s player’s ability and potential.

Bruce Wallace

College coaches, when recruiting high school players and the pros looking to draft college stars rely and “the 40 time.”

When was the last time you ran 40-yards?

Frankly, it’s been such a longtime for me, I’m not sure my legs could run 40 yards without popping a muscle, pulling a charley horse or simply buckling under the strain of running once again.

Forty yards is a long way – 120-feet, to be exact – and 43-yards is even nine feet further. That is how far Parker Boyce kicked what was nearly the winning field goal on Friday night.

No, it wasn’t the winning field goal. Those dastardly villains in purple from Hallsville scored with 40-seconds left to win Friday’s game. But this is not a commentary on that game. Nor, really, is it a commentary on football.

It is more of a commentary on the message that high school kids like Parker Boyce and his coach Trent Tracy send to those of us watching.

Parker was the Eagles kicker last year and he did quite well. He worked out in the off-season, lifting weights and kicking footballs. He went to summer camps for kickers these past two summers and this fall was touted as one of the top kickers in Missouri – and, indeed, listed as a top high school junior kicker in the nation.

Is there an under-reported “big story” right under our noses?

The thing about kickers is this – if you go to kicking camp and connect on a couple of long field goals with only a bunch of other kickers standing around, it’s one thing. When you come into a game, wearing your team’s uniform, hundreds of fans screaming for or against you and attempt to make a field goal, it’s an entirely different ball game altogether.

While Parker was most assuredly the best kicker Southern Boone has seen and one of the top high school kickers I’ve seen – he still has to make a field goal or two in order to be considered any good.

Parker missed his first two attempts this season at the North Callaway game. What?

“I thought he was listed as one of the best kickers in the nation,” you might be asking.

He is.

Boyce rebounded the next week, kicking a field goal and catching a nice touchdown pass from quarterback Sam Stichnote. He then gave credit in an interview to everyone else on the field, on the bench and his coaches afterwards.

Did I tell you Parker Boyce is a class act?

But Parker also said something else that sticks with me that all athletes – and their fans – need to be reminded of on a regular basis.

“I don’t really think about past field goals – whether I make them or miss them,” Boyce said, “I just try to think about the next field goal. I know I’m going to get a number of chances (to kick) and I just need to take each one as it comes.”

Parker’s coach, Trent Tracy, fosters that great attitude by going back to his kicker each time the opportunity presents itself. It is one thing for a coach to tell a reporter he has confidence in his kicker, it’s another to send him back out there after he misses a short field goal attempt.

So, how could you not be rooting for Parker Boyce as he lined up for a 43-yard field goal with the game in the balance on Friday night?

Boyce’s kick went end-over-end and tumbled over the 10-foot crossbar with a few feet to spare.

Boyce was the would-be hero, only to have the game go the other way in the final minute.

But his success should not be ignored. Nor should his missed kicks.

Some coaches might tell you that you play the games in order to win championships. Good high school coaches do not ascribe to that theory. Most coaches, parents and fans will agree that kids play the games in order to learn the lessons Coach Tracy and Parker Boyce have already exhibited.

It is a good time of year to remember that high school kids try a lot of things – from kicking footballs to attempting to master anatomy or geometry – and will fail and succeed.