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Franklin standouts give praise to long-snapper


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Franklin College kicker Mike Wood, a Center Grove High School graduate, practices kicking. STAFF PHOTO BY JOE SABA
Franklin College kicker Mike Wood, a Center Grove High School graduate, practices kicking. STAFF PHOTO BY JOE SABA

Franklin College kicker Mike Wood, right, and punter Michael Parks are among NCAA Division III's top special teams performers. / Submitted photo
Franklin College kicker Mike Wood, right, and punter Michael Parks are among NCAA Division III's top special teams performers. / Submitted photo


Legendary Franklin College football coach Stewart “Red” Faught didn’t like settling for field goals, but still preferred them to punts.

Now, like before, the Grizzlies’ line of thinking is that a high-powered offense centered around the pass is, if executed as schemed, designed to keep such specialists on the sideline.

It’s a theory that’s working, but then again isn’t.

Kicker Mike Wood and punter Michael Parks see the field plenty on Saturdays for 12th-ranked Franklin, having teamed up for 43 extra-points tries and five field-goal attempts.

Parks, the junior from Shelbyville High School, is the team’s holder on kicks. He’s also a preseason All-American, averaging 43.0 yards per punt entering Saturday’s Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Senior Day game against visiting Defiance.

As busy as Parks has stayed, Wood, a senior whose late-game heroics during Center Grove’s miracle comeback in the 2008 Class 5A state championship game aren’t soon to be forgotten, is even busier.

Playing for a program averaging 52.7 points a game can make for one tired foot.

“It’s a blessing to kick that many extra points because we had a great offense at Center Grove, and I was able to do it there, too,” said Wood, who is 40 of 43 on PATs and 3 of 5 on field-goal attempts on the year. “Coming into this season my last field goal was my senior year in high school.”

Wood thinks it might have been during semistate against Ben Davis, but he isn’t willing to wager his kicking tee on it.

Regardless, a total of 58 months separated Wood’s last field goal and his first of this season — a 34-yard effort against Earlham in Week 4. Wood started his collegiate career at Illinois State University before transferring to Franklin College prior to the 2012-2013 school year.

Last season his strong leg was utilized solely for kickoffs for the Grizzlies. It’s here Wood averaged 59.8 yards per boot.

Wood has been named HCAC Special Teams Player of the Week twice already this season, including following an Oct. 19 67-7 victory over Anderson, in which he contributed a pair of field goals and six conversion kicks. He’s also produced six touchbacks in as many games.

“Boy, he’s a strong-looking young man,” said Grizzlies coach Mike Leonard of the 6-foot-4, 225-pound kicker. “He can boom the ball and has several times out of the end zone on kickoffs. Mike is very good with his placement, as well.”

Parks, at 6-1, 190, might not be as physically imposing. His numbers are.

A preseason All-American after being named first team All-HCAC in 2011 and 2012, Parks has placed five of his 18 punts this season inside the other team’s 20-yard line.

“Michael had two phenomenal years as our starting punter. I hate to punt, but he’s been a weapon that’s been great,” Leonard said. “Every kick he makes in practice, he has our whole team’s attention because it’s just so beautiful to watch.

“Shoot, he’s had several that are over 50 yards, but sometimes it’s not so good to out-kick your coverage. Michael has an ability to put the ball right where it needs to be.”

Neither Wood nor Parks would be able to perform their respective tasks without a dependable long-snapper. It’s here junior Jake David, a 6-1, 225-pound product of Evansville Reitz accustomed to viewing things upside-down, earns his teammates’ everlasting praise.

“I couldn’t ask for a better holder and long-snapper,” Wood said. “They both do a great job. In kicking, it’s not necessarily how strong you are, but it’s the mechanics.”

Parks equally grateful for the way David performs his job.

“That’s the great aspect of having a good long-snapper,” Parks said. “He puts the ball where I want it, and I’ve had the luxury to play with him all three years.”

There likely won’t be a fourth. Though Parks carries junior athletic eligibility after sitting out the 2010 season because of a heart condition, the pre-med major already has applied to two medical schools.

Thus, expect Wood, the fifth-year senior, and Parks, the fourth-year junior, to exit the program at the same time.

Maybe with a break or two it will happen working as one — Wood delivering points out of a Parks hold in a game played deep into December at a stadium hundreds of miles away.

Now wouldn’t that be a kick?

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