Barrett Buchanan joined the McCracken County Mustangs football team in his junior year, as a placekicker — a high pressure, specialized job on the field — and took on the new challenge. He would eventually break a school record, thanks to a 40-yard field goal against Bowling Green High School last month.
“With the football team, I started that last year and it has really changed my life,” he said. “It’s helped me time wise — like, I feel like I’m on time more. I feel like I’m forcing myself to get up, to have to go to practice, have to do all this. I feel better about my overall body and stuff like that.”
The 18-year-old McCracken County High School senior played soccer when he was younger, but didn’t make the team once he got to high school, and he was like, “OK, maybe this is just not for me anymore.” However, opportunity later knocked when the football team needed a new kicker and he tried it out.
“It’s a lot of mental pressure because I feel like I can do everything they tell me to do, or that they need me to do, it’s just sometimes getting nervous in front of a huge crowd, stuff like that,” he said, on the kicker role.
“My favorite part ... a lot of the guys there, I knew in elementary school and middle school, so it was just like I knew them, they were like family to me. So, joining that team, I was immediately accepted and stuff. All those guys there — they’re really nice, and right now, they just are like my brothers.”
Up until last month’s game, Buchanan hadn’t scored a field goal yet. He had one attempt last year and missed it because he was “too nervous” and didn’t keep his head down, or stare at the ball as he was supposed to. During the summer, that’s one thing he worked really hard on to try and improve upon.
Buchanan then scored a 40-yard field goal against Bowling Green on Aug. 27, and the first thing he did was jump up and down. He later learned it was a school record for longest field goal (the previous school record was 39 yards).
“One of the things I have to do as kicker is after kicking a field goal or PAT, is I have to immediately switch my mindset to ‘Hey, I have to go do kickoff now,’ ” he said, on scoring.
“I tried to immediately cancel it out, but I can still remember the student section cheering my name and I just was so happy, that I actually kicked the next kick a little too far — like I had the adrenaline running, and I was like ‘Oh, that’s really cool.’ ”
Buchanan, son of Mary and Brandon Buchanan of Paducah, is the Paducah Bank Teen of the Week.
Every Tuesday, The Sun will publish articles on area high school seniors who were chosen from a group of nominees for Teen of the Week recognition. Around the end of the school year, a selection committee will name one of these students as Teen of the Year, which carries a $5,000 scholarship. Another student will receive the Inspiration Award and a $1,000 scholarship.
At McCracken County, Buchanan has earned a 4.27 weighted cumulative GPA through three years, which places him among the top of his class. He has received a composite 31 ACT score, and is an AP Scholar with Honor.
He’s part of several school and community activities, including student government and the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce’s Youth LEAD program. He will also move to the Paducah Bank Teen Ambassador Alumni Board this year.
As of right now, Buchanan said he isn’t sure yet where he wants to attend college, and he’s still deciding on a future career path. He’s leaning toward medicine at the moment, possibly radiology. He’s part of the school’s “Project Lead the Way” biomedical program, and he’s really enjoyed doing it.
“It’s one of those areas that you can go into where you can really truly help people,” he said. “...There are many ways you can help people — just by like delivering something to them, just by being there for them, but I feel like (medicine) — it just really changes their life, more overall.”
Follow Kelly Farrell on Twitter, @KellyAFarrell11