In middle school, Joseph Gedeon used to watch Columbus North High School football games and wonder if someday he would be one of those players.
Then he saw Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, and he knew how he wanted to make an impact.
“I chose No. 4,” he said of Vinatieri’s number.
While Gedeon, who made 9 of the 11 field goals he attempted last season as a junior, has realized his goal of being a factor on the field for the Bull Dogs, he has yet to realize his dream of making a game-winning kick in the final seconds.
“I made one to tie in the last minute and a half,” he said. “But we lost in overtime.”
While Gedeon might be wishing for that game-winning chance, East junior Paul Baker is waiting for any kind of field-goal attempt. He started kicking in seventh grade but has yet to attempt a field goal on any level even though he has been his team’s place-kicker as he moved up through the levels.
“I’ve never attempted a field goal,” he said with a sigh. “Last year on the junior varsity, we were down a couple of points with 30 seconds left. I thought I would finally get my chance. But on the next play, we got a pass picked off.”
Both Gedeon and Baker will continue to hope for that golden opportunity again this season, which opens next weekend. Until that happens, they’ll play the waiting game.
On Friday night, Columbus East ran through a series of drills during a scrimmage at Martinsville.
Head coach Bob Gaddis said teams usually won’t practice special team drills in the scrimmages because they aren’t allowed to go live on kicks.
While East was scrimmaging Martinsville, Columbus North hosted Mooresville for a scrimmage.
As they do through much of practice, Gedeon and Baker mostly had to watch.
That’s OK with Baker, who also runs cross country for East.
“I like being here the best,” he said while standing along the football sideline. “My teammates just treat me like I’m one of them.
“I’ll be happy when I get that chance.”
Gedeon said that standing alone and watching is just part of the deal.
“I play basketball, and I’ve been used to being on the court a lot,” Gedeon said. “But you can only do what you can do.”
In the meantime, both work hard to be prepared, often when no one is watching.
“You need technique and accuracy,” Baker said. “You don’t really need power. But it is a lot of work. Whenever I get the chance, I work with our snapper and holder. You know that nothing is going to be perfect.”
Gedeon said he has been working hard on his kicking game since watching Vinatieri and making up his mind to be a kicker.
“I said to myself that I would work my tail off and hope one day that my number would be called,” Gedeon said. “It’s very crucial that when the game is on that line that you’re ready. You have to believe in what you are doing.”
Both Gedeon, who also handles the punting chores, and Baker veered toward kicking partly by necessity. Gedeon is a slender 6-foot-1 and 155 pounds, and he has gained 50 pounds since he was 14. Baker is a 5-10, 160-pounder.
“I work with what I’ve got,” Gedeon said.
If they do get the call, they know their performance will be judged by that one play.
“But it’s just like a quarterback,” Gedeon said. “A quarterback has to make the throws. It’s just on me.”
North coach Tim Bless said the Bull Dogs appreciate that Gedeon is there when, and if, needed.
“Without a doubt, he has earned his teammates’ respect,” Bless said.
Gaddis said East has had good kickers in the past and that Baker is bound to get his chance.
“From what I’ve seen so far, he is pretty good,” Gaddis said.
But when all the work is done, it is no sure thing that either will get a chance to kick a field goal.
“I know Coach Gaddis would rather get six on the board,” Baker said. “I respect that.”
A LOOK AHEAD UPCOMING HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL COVERAGE IN THE REPUBLIC
Columnist Jay Heater writes about the environment first-time varsity players will encounter
Carrying the load, a profile of the North and East tailbacks
A look at East’s opening opponent (Bloomington North) and North’s opponent (Carmel)
They call quarterbacks “signal-callers” for a reason — it’s complicated. Plus information boxes on all the local games
Annual football section including schedules, previews of the local teams, photos of all the East and North players, features and more
Game coverage of the North-Carmel opener and other local games
Game coverage of the East-Bloomington North opener, plus a photo page on both Columbus teams’ openers
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