By: Paul Slobodzian
(This article has also run in Coweta Game Day Magazine. Pick up a January edition to see it in print!)
Starting for the Varsity football team as a freshman only appears in far-fetched fantasies for most eager ninth graders. Rad Wyrick, however, has already kicked away the freshman fantasy for a season of knocking it through the uprights under the Friday night lights.
Rad didn’t just make the Varsity team to fill a roster spot. Instead, he was given the responsibility to drill game-deciding kicks in crucial moments for the Cougars. Rad proved that he was more than up to the challenge.
PHOTO GALLERY: Rad in Action
Although he didn’t begin kicking footballs until Madras Middle School’s football team was in need of a kicker, Rad has rose to the occasion by nailing a 43-yard field goal this past season.
Rad had practiced the long kick but noted the intensity of kicking in the moment.
“It was sort of iffy in practice,” Rad said, “whether I’d make or miss them. When I kicked [the 43-yarder], I was thinking it probably wasn’t going in, but when it went in, everyone went crazy. The 43 was awesome.”
While the 43-yard field goal may have come as a bit of a surprise to Rad, his years of soccer may have contributed more to his success kicking field goals than anything else.
“I’ve played soccer my whole life,” Rad explained. “When I hit a 43-yard field goal that [middle school] season, all my friends were telling me that I’d make Varsity or I’ll go up and do amazing. I was shooting for Varsity, but I definitely wasn’t expecting it.”
A 43-yard field goal on the Madras Middle School field on some random weekday in September is a lot different than a 43-yard field goal at Drake Stadium under the Friday night lights.
Rad described the pace of his middle school competition as much slower compared to what he experienced this past season.
“In middle school, kickers aren’t as important, and no one is really used to using a kicker. On the field, the middle school game is much slower, and people who are all around your age group are on the field with you, so there aren’t really big, fast rushers trying to block. The stadium is basically just a few stands with parents, too.”
The high school gridiron posed different challenges with better opponents and added pressure that Rad was forced to manage.
“In high school, there is this huge stadium with all these people watching you, and you don’t want to mess up, because they [crowd members] will say things about how you do. All the players are also coming way faster because they are all way bigger,” Rad said.
When he isn’t crushing meaningful field goals, Rad enjoys his science and personal fitness classes at NHS.
“My favorite class right now is probably AP Biology,” Rad stated. “I may not act like it, but I love science. AP Bio is much harder than what we did in eighth grade, but I love the new content and learning new stuff about science because I’ve always been fascinated with it.”
Rad does need a break from the grind of the school day, and he is able to alleviate some of the stress from the day during his health/personal fitness class.
He explained that “the best class for me is personal fitness, because it’s just a little break to sort of settle down. We take some notes and tests and then go play a bit of basketball. It’s a good stress reliever.”
Rad also enjoys partaking in the usual “teenage guy” activities like video games and hanging out with friends.
“I’ve played Call of Duty,” Rad said. “I play FIFA a lot because I’ve always liked that, and I’ll play some Madden, too. My favorite thing is just hanging out with friends when I get the chance and have the time to do so.”
Rad has had a pretty successful freshman campaign to build off of, and he is ready to take the next step in becoming a reliable option for Coach Mike McDonald, NHS Head Football, to turn to every Friday.
“My first goal is to get a touchback in a game,” Rad explained. “Beyond a touchback, I’ve always raised the bar in order to perform better than I sometimes imagined, so my goal has been to break the national high school field goal range record.”
The Cougar Varsity Football Team has found a player to man the helm of the kicking staff for the next three seasons, and he has big goals for himself moving forward.
“I want to hit a field goal from 68 yards or longer,” Rad declared. “It may not happen, but that’s what I’m working toward.”