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By David Sharp
Milan Wildcat Class 1 All State place kicker Christian Chaparo has signed a National Letter of Intent to play football at Graceland University at Lamoni, Iowa. The signing took place on February 22, 2023 at Milan High School witnessed by Coaches and Administrators, teammates, students, family, Media and community members.
The signing was the latest chapter in a success story following Christian Chaparro’s journey to a student manager to a unanimous first team all-conference and all district kicker in his senior season.
“I am just so happy for him and the hard work that he has put in,” Milan Wildcat head football coach Mark Cole said. “Three years of not being just a kicker. He focused on it. A lot of hard work. Hours and hours on his own.”
“Not just football practice time. Hours and hours on weekends, holidays,” Mark Cole said. “He would call or text me and ask if he could kick some. I finally just let him keep (the footballs). Because I knew he was going to wear them out.”
Christian Chaparro told the Milan Standard he had a background in soccer, as do many successful American football kickers. Christian talked about playing soccer with his father, Martin Carapia of Milan.
Chaparro earned all-conference and all district honors in his sophomore season. Christian became a two time all conference and all district kicker in his junior season. Added to his resume was a Missouri Football Coaches Association Third Team All State designation.
During his 2022 Senior football season at Milan, Christian Chaparro earned First Team Unanimous All Conference recognition. He was an all-district and First Team Missouri Football Coaches Association All State kicker for the 2022 season.
Christian Chaparro booted 41 field goals at Milan with a 39 yard average, He was 4-4 on field goals this season.
“A goal that he had has finally paid off with hard work and dedication,” Mark Cole said. Milan was 6-5 overall in 2022. “I watched my son Mallan Cole play college football at Central Methodist at the time,” Coach Cole said.
“He signed a college scholarship from here. Central Methodist was playing at Graceland. I watched that game on a Saturday evening. Both kickers were not that good.”
“I came home and told Christian after that game I know two colleges you could have kicked for that day. That night,” Mark Cole said. “You are better than both of those kickers. It is funny that he ended up at Graceland.”
“When he first came out for football, he was kicking and maybe playing a little bit of wingback,” Former Milan High School football coach John Dabney. “He got to a situation he was really developed as a kicker but backlogged as a Wing Back. He was down the depth chart quite a ways,” John Dabney said of the beginning of Christian Chaparro’s football journey.
“He got so he was a pretty good kicker. I wasn’t so sure I wanted him to go and play Junior Varsity football on Monday nights,” John Dabney said. “He did that his sophomore year. His first couple of years I wanted to be fair to him. He was practicing like everybody else.”
“I think he read my mind. He asked me if he could just kick in his junior year,” John Dabney said. “He was fine with just kicking. I didn’t want to ruin his goals or aspirations at another position.”
Most College and professional place kickers are athletes who are capable of playing positions on the football field, but they seldom take the field in todays’ game except to kick off or hit field goals and extra points.
“I was thinking perfect. Our other kickers have all played other positions. Raul Palacios was a conference MVP as a wingback type,” Dabney said of another outstanding Milan Wildcat place kicker.
“Christian was our first full time, full fledged place kicker. We went straight with that. He is a kid that has been persistent at what he does,” the current Truman State University assistant football coach said.
“We did a lot of directional kicking on kickoffs. That is one thing I think will help him at the next level,” John Dabney said. “He was pretty consistent at what he did. I’m tickled to death that he has a chance at the next level to go kick and get his education at the same time.”
“It’s truly a blessing,” Christian Chaparro told the Milan Standard after his signing ceremony. “It gets you to the place you want to be at. I started my sophomore year trying it out. I really fell in love with this sport. I would wake up early in the mornings and try to be the best.”
“I’m here and I did it. I’m proud of myself. I’m proud of my family for supporting me,” Christian Chaparro said. “Graceland was the only school that reached out to me,” Chaparro said when asked if he considered other colleges or universities during his recruitment process.
“I told myself that any school that offers me anything, I’ll probably go there,” the Wildcat all stater said. “I loved Truman (State University). I would have gone there and been with my old teammates there. I got Graceland, so I’m happy with that.”
Milan graduates Dominic and Ryan Dabney currently are on football scholarships at Truman State University. The Bulldogs were 10-2 in football during the 2022 campaign.
Christian Chaparro said he plans to major in Physical Education and Allied Health at Graceland University. “If there was a position at Milan, I would love to come back here and coach.”
“I realized that kicking a football is kind of the same as kicking a soccer ball,” Chaparro said. “I combined it with football. That helped me a lot. I just want to say thanks to everyone that came out tonight.”
“I’m truly grateful to everyone. I will forever remember this.”