• Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer

    Besides being one of the best long snappers in the nation, Lyons senior Gabe Paznokas also plays linebacker and center for the Lions.

  • Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer

    Lyons' Gabe Paznokas is one of the best long snappers in the country and proved it this summer at a camp in Kentucky, where he came out ranked No. 5 in the country and No. 1 in Colorado. He is drawing attention from several in-state college as well as out-of-state colleges.

  • Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer

    Lyons senior Gabe Paznokas is one of the best long snappers in the country and proved it this summer at a camp in Kentucky, where he came out ranked No. 5 in the country and No. 1 in Colorado.



LYONS — There are aspects of the game that are easy to ignore, but when they go terribly wrong, they are magnified 10-fold.

Long-snapping is an art form that takes countless hours of practice to perfect. And nobody in the state of Colorado has devoted more to their craft than Lyons senior Gabe Paznokas.

“He is definitely a rare commodity … and it is just one of those things you just don’t notice, but it is such a luxury,” said Lyons coach Jason Yantzer, whose team beat Estes Park 31-6 on Friday. “The snap is so fast and so accurate back to our holder or punter that it is just something you don’t have to worry about.”

Paznokas, quite literally, spent his entire summer touring the country and attending camps to further strengthen his ability.

At the Ray Guy Prokicker camp in July in Richmond, Kentucky, a gathering of the top 25 prospects from around the country, Paznokas further solidified his prowess for snapping the ball. His average snap time was a remarkable 0.75 seconds and his accuracy is off the charts.

“I had placed at a previous Prokicker camp in Phoenix, so I got invited to the top prospect camp — basically the top 25 in the country — and I did much better there,” said Paznokas, who never comes off the field for the Lions, doubling as a linebacker on defense and center on the offensive line. “Now I am ranked fifth in the country.”

Ponder this … Paznokas has been error free at snapping the ball all the way through high school, including a perfect 26-for-26 thus far this season.

The aforementioned luxury that coach Yantzer comes in especially handy when the Lions are forced to punt. Where most high schools line up their punter anywhere from 10 to 12 yards behind the line of scrimmage, Lyons can safely go as deep as 16 yards back and the fear of having a punt blocked is drastically decreased.

“He’ll get it there easy and in a hurry,” said Yantzer, who called his senior simply fun to watch at practice. “That’s just a worry we don’t have.”

Paznokas has been playing football since he was 7 years old and took an affinity to snapping the ball when he was first introduced to the sport.

“I just had coaches who supported me in the past. I didn’t really have any formal training for it up until about a year ago, but it was something I started when I was little and I was always good at snapping the ball,” Paznokas said. “I started going to these camps and I just got better.”

Paznokas said the biggest key to success in being a long snapper is all about snapping your legs and really, “it’s all muscle memory,” he said.

Doors are beginning to open college-wise for the 5-foot-10, 205 pound Paznokas, but it is not necessarily in the traditional sense.

“It’s a lot of marketing,” he said. “Going to a small school, the colleges aren’t going to games just to see me, but since I have been advertising myself on Twitter and YouTube and contacting coaches directly, I’ve had five or six colleges that are interested.”

Jon Yunt: yuntj@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/JonEYunt