De Soto High placekicker also keeping the beat as drummer in school marching band

High School Sports
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DE SOTO, Kan. -- One way or another, De Soto High's kicker finds his place.

Senior placekicker Eli Gratz doesn't take halftimes off. The senior serves double-duty, trading his helmet for drumsticks and playing with the De Soto High School Marching Band as a drummer.

Soccer was Gratz's gateway to the gridiron. He's been an all-United Kansas Conference goalkeeper for the past two seasons, but his roots in music trace back to first grade.

"We were at lunch and one of my teammates was like, 'You should come out and try to kick for football.' I was like, 'I don't know,'" Gratz said.

Gratz's tryout for De Soto's coaches went perfectly, and over the past two seasons, he's made 94 of his 96 extra point attempts, as of Friday morning.

"You definitely have to have the mindset of, 'I'm going to hit this in,' and just walk off the field. You can`t be nervous about it," Gratz explained.

He's downright aggressive when it comes to making music with his bandmates.

Gratz has been known to bang three different style of skins with great proficiency, and many days include both music rehearsals and practice with either his football or soccer teams.

"It's different. Nobody's out there with me. I`m just by myself playing my drum, and I do a couple of warmup kicks and everyone`s back out," Gratz said with a smile.

"It`s like I`m a proud father, watching him do his other thing" said Aaron McKay, De Soto tight end. "Knowing he can manage them both at the same time is incredible."

"To get yourself mentally ready to kick a field goal, or to go kickoff after you've played a game on Thursday night for soccer. You`ve gotta be well-rounded and you have to be good at managing time," said Brian King, seventh-year Wildcats head coach.

On Friday, De Soto (5-0) is expected to face Basehor-Linwood (3-2) in a 7 p.m. kickoff.

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