Prep Soccer: Double threat Karapandzic shines in football, soccer for Danville
Danville's Damir Karapandzic got upended by Lincoln County's Blake Henderson earlier this season. Danville football coach says Karapandzic could easily have been a wide receiver/defensive back on his team, but he's happy to have him as the team¿s kicker. Last week he booted five kickoffs into the end zone. (September 10, 2012)
Not that he hasn’t tried.
After playing soccer for virtually all his life, Karapandzic wanted to give football a try in his freshman year at Danville. He said he had gotten a little tired of soccer, but he didn’t want to give that up, either.
He had been enlisted to try his hand, er, his foot at placekicking and punting for Danville, but he wanted to do more. He wanted to be a wide receiver, and Danville football coach Sam Harp is convinced he could have done it, but not if he continued to play soccer.
“What he thought he could do was play soccer, play wide receiver and kick,” Harp said. “We told him, ‘That’s impossible. You’ve got to make a choice there.’ But he could’ve been a good wide receiver.”
We’ll never know that, but even without catching a single pass, Karapandzic has become a valuable member of Danville’s football and soccer teams. He is excelling with both squads, and he is enjoying both of his roles.
It is becoming clear to him, however, that his future might be brighter in American football than in the football he first played in his native Bosnia.
Karapandzic asked Harp if he could still be part of the football team as a kicker after his dreams of being a wide receiver/midfielder were dashed.
“He said it would be all right as long as I did a good job,” Karapandzic said. “I think I’ve done all right.”
He has developed remarkable leg strength and considerable prowess at both kicking and punting, and he said he thinks it’s much more likely that he’ll be doing one of those things rather than playing soccer at the collegiate level a year from now.
“Right now I’d say I’ll be somewhere kicking, just because I like it a lot,” Karapandzic said. “Three or four years ago, I would’ve said, ‘No way.’ If they would’ve said it, I probably would have laughed at them. I knew I had a strong foot, but I didn’t think it would get this strong.”
Nor did Karapandzic think what he’d be doing on the soccer field, where he has become a defensive stopper. He wasn’t even part of Danville’s defense prior to last season, but in a relatively short time he has made that perhaps the Admirals’ strongest unit.
“Last year was my first year playing back there, and I wasn’t really confident in that spot. The confidence is up a lot from last year,” he said.
Danville boys soccer coach Brent Beauman said Karapandzic has come a long way in both sports.
“He’s matured so much as a young man, and he’s having great success in soccer anf football,” Beauman said.
Karapandzic was very young when he emigrated from Bosnia with his family, including older brother Alen, who played soccer at Danville and went on to play for Campbellsville University.
As he has become immersed in American culture, he has come to realize that football gets far more attention than soccer in this country. And he doesn’t mind saying that he enjoys getting some of that attention, which he said is one reason he is inclined to focus on college football.
Karapandzic is often the center of attention on either of his chosen fields, which seems to be fine with him.
In football, he might be most valuable on kickoffs — he put five into the end zone in Friday’s win over Corbin — but the role he enjoys most is kicking extra points and field goals.