Marietta’s Ian Shannon ended 2013 as the top-rated kicker in the nation by Prokicker.com in all three categories — punting, specialists and combos. He is coming off a successful junior season, helping the Blue Devils to an 8-3 record and a berth to the Class AAAAAA state playoffs.
Shannon built a reputation where kicking field goals of 40 yards or longer more or less became routine.
“It’s great to know he will be back for his senior year,” Marietta coach Scott Burton said. “You think of the progress he made, and even though it will be difficult to top the year he’s had, 2014 could be even better.”
Sprayberry’s Rodrigo Blankenship is currently ranked No. 2 in the combos, No. 3 in the specialists and No. 5 in the punters. But that could very well change after he won the high school division of the Prokicker.com national championships in Bradenton, Fla., for the second straight year.
Blankenship won the kicking championships with an average kickoff distance of 63.5 yards, and a 3.83-second hang time. He was also 100-percent successful in his field goal attempts in the finals.
Blankenship also won the punting competition with a 42.5-yard average and a 3.78-second hang time.
“I knew there would be pressure to come back and win it again,” said Blankenship, who kicked a 68-yard field goal off a tee during practice last spring. “It’s a great honor to be able to do it again, but I’ve got to keep working.”
Following the championships, Blankenship represented Sprayberry in the Georgia Junior Bowl on Tuesday and led his team in scoring with 12 points on three field goals and three extra points. He also had two touchbacks on kickoffs, averaging 62 yards a kick against the wind, and landed a punt on the 6-yard line.
Shannon had his share of impressive feats, too.
He booted a game-winning 49-yard field goal with 2 seconds remaining to help Marietta upset eventual Region 4AAAAAA champion North Cobb in November, capping a game that also included field goals from 43 and 37 yards out.
Shannon also had a 48-yarder against Kennesaw Mountain, and his 45-yard field goal in Marietta’s season-opening game opened the Blue Devils’ scoring barrage in a 52-21 win.