With one year of high school left, Ben Sargent had a choice: play the two fall sports he loves or walk away from one of the games.
After weighing the factors, the Palisade High School senior decided to focus on football, walking away from soccer.
"I've been playing soccer since I was about four years old," Sargent said. "I've been playing it all my life."
Sargent began playing on Palisade's varsity soccer team as a sophomore, the same year he decided to give the gridiron a go for the first time. In his two years on the pitch, he scored seven goals and assisted on eight.
In his three years playing football, he's made 124 of his 130 extra-point tries. He's 41 for 42 this season, including a perfect 6 for 6 in Palisade's 42-6 win over Summit at Stocker Stadium on Thursday night to finish the regular season at 7-3 (5-0 Western Slope League).
This season, Sargent has made 3 of his 5 field-goal attempts, including a career-long 47-yarder. He's 8 for 13 for his career.
He's also picked up punting duties this season, and he's already impressed in that area, too. His 16 punts have averaged 46.3 yards with a long of 62.
The transition from soccer to football brought challenges, but it also familiarity for Sargent, leading to immediate and then sustained success.
"With soccer, I just brought over the basic techniques of kicking a ball," he said. "With football, though, there's little things I had to fix. Where I hit the ball exactly defines the farthest kick I can get out of it. There's techniques with following through with the football that are different from soccer. It was pretty easy to convert my kick from soccer to a football kick."
Despite being skilled in both sports and with a longer history of playing soccer, Sargent decided against playing both sports in his final fall semester as a high school student.
"It was my senior year of high school and it was really hard to balance school with playing two sports in one season," Sargent said. "I just wanted to focus on football. Hopefully, I can play in college. I wanted to focus hardcore on football so, hopefully, I can go to the next level."
Sargent's college recruitment is in the early stages, but he's being proactive to ensure he's visible to as many coaches as possible.
Colorado Mesa University has already expressed its interest. Sargent plans on taking an official visit with the hometown Mavericks on Nov. 16. He's also already getting some Division I interest.
"I've sent out emails to a bunch of colleges I hope to go to," Sargent said. "The University of Wyoming has gotten back to me, but they're just looking for a punter. I hope to kick and punt in college."
Sargent got plenty of chances to practice his kicking in the Bulldogs' win over Summit, helping them trigger the running clock rule in approximately 16 minutes of game time.
Palisade opened the scoring with some creativity. Quarterback Cam Tucker handed the football to Caden Sparks, who then handed the ball to Logan Harris on a reverse. Harris broke free for a 26-yard score with 9:37 left in the opening quarter, beginning the avalanche of points.
After the first score, Palisade used its speed and size advantages to get past the Tigers (3-7, 2-3 WSL).
On the next drive, Tucker found a wide-open Sparks deep for a 55-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead. After Franklin Barks recovered a fumble at the Summit 34 on the next series, Sparks found space and zipped to the end zone, making the score 21-0 not even halfway through the quarter.
Linebacker Carl Cox had an interception on the next drive and returned it to the Tigers' 24. After Tucker converted a 3rd-and-7 with a 21-yard strike to Sparks, he kept it himself from 1 yard out on the next play to make it a four-score contest.
Tucker picked off Summit quarterback Cameron Kalaf near midfield on the next drive and, two plays later, hit Caden Clark deep for 32 yards and another red zone opportunity.
Harris got in on the scoring again to open the second quarter, breaking free from the coverage on a wheel route and hauling in Tucker's 13-yard scoring toss.
For good measure and a running clock, Tucker and Sparks connected for another score, this one 25 yards, with eight minutes remaining in the half, sending the Bulldogs to the locker room with a 42-0 lead.
Tucker, who, like many key starters, only played in the first half, completed 6 of 6 passes for 159 yards and three touchdowns with seven runs for 42 yards and another touchdown. Sparks hauled in three passes for 101 yards and two scores, adding 43 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Harris had 26 yards rushing and 26 yards receiving, scoring a touchdown in both areas.
The Bulldogs outgained the Tigers 341-160.