Snap, hold, kick.
In football, the process is as essential as breathing, and just as fatal when corrupted.
This season, the snap, hold and kick has been an afterthought for Smith-Cotton, thanks to dynamic senior leadership from unlikely sources: the long snapper and place kicker.
Chaz Satnan is 6-foot-8, 250 pounds and bright — with a sense of humor.
“Long-snappers, we’re a funny group,” Satnan said. “Because if our names are in the newspaper, it’s a bad thing.”
Blake Grupe is 5-foot-9, 143 pounds and slim like a soccer player, because he is. In fact, Wednesday, Oct. 12, was the only day of that week he didn’t have a game between four Tiger soccer matches and Friday’s senior night football game with Center.
“It’s hard — really hard,” Grupe said about playing two sports in the same season. “The last two nights, I’ve gone to bed around (midnight) because I still have calculus homework, composition homework.”
Head football coach Ryan Boyer noted the pair as leaders early in the season, and not just because Satnan was the only four-year letterman on the team or their combined work ethic. They are also excellent at their jobs.
Grupe is currently 6-for-7 in field goal attempts this season, with a 40-yard long, upping his career total to nine.
While the totals appear meager — Smith-Cotton’s previous season record for field goals was four, set by Jessica Greer in 2008 — Grupe is also nationally ranked in the top 100 kickers for the class of 2017. He won first place at the Mizzou Specialist Camp in June and was 25th of 282 kickers at the 2016 National Scholarship Camp in July.
Satnan won long snapping contests at Iowa State and Kansas State, and is ranked 47th among the class of 2017 long snappers, according to Rubio Long Snapping.
The collegiate market for players at Satnan and Grupe’s positions, however, are as peculiar as their roles. Both said that while they’ve shopped rather extensively, plans at the next level are unclear.
“I’m uploading films of myself every single week,” Satnan said. “I’m trying to get in front of as many coaches as I can because, long snappers, we’re the last ones to get signed.”
Grupe said he met a Division I long snapper who was called by his college one day before graduation in May.
“It can be pretty early if they really like you,” Grupe said. “Or, you might have to fight and see what pops up … It’s a battle, really.”
For a tandem whose in-game usage is sparse — Satnan also starts at defensive end — the pair tend to lead by example.
“Being a senior is, you’ve got to lead the younger kids,” Satnan said. “My goal from the start of the year was, I want to set these kids up for success.”
Smith-Cotton enters its final regular-season game with Center 4-4, coming off an undefeated regular season the year prior.
Satnan, who said his friendship with Grupe blossomed this season, said he wants the senior camaraderie of 2016 to trickle down to the larger, 30-plus player sophomore class.
“I think last season, that was a really high season,” Satnan said. “I think it’s something we can do again, it’s something that these younger kids can easily do again. But it’s something we needed to get them ready for.”
Kickoff at Tiger Stadium in Sedalia is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2