One of the most powerful legs in the country resides in Parker. It belongs to Issac Power, a senior at Ponderosa, who picked up football four years ago.

Now one of the best punters in the nation, he's bound for the U.S. Army All-American game.

"We never thought I'd get this far, of course," Power said recently. "It's been a struggle, and it's been a lot of time and effort, but it's been so worth it. So worth it."

Gateway Ponderosa football

(Jack Eberhard/JacksActionShots.com)

Power played soccer for 10 years, but gave it up just before high school. The summer before he became a freshman at Ponderosa, Power attended the school's football camp, where Marshall Ekhoff, a volunteer coach for the Mustangs, asked if anyone was interested in kicking.

"No one raised their hand, of course," Power said.

Ekhoff then asked if anyone had soccer experience. Power raised his hand. So that summer, he went out and practiced with the school's kickers and punters every Tuesday and Thursday, and each weekend.

"I kept kicking," he said. "It's weird. I guess it was natural. I just had a leg."

That first year, as a freshman, the right-legged Power was the varsity team's kickoff specialist. The next season, he wanted to do more than kick, so Power, who is 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, lined up at receiver during summer camp.

"It was going good," he said. "I got tackled, I got trucked one time. It was awesome."

But, as he turned up-field during one route, Power's leg got caught in the turf and twisted. He tore his right ACL and missed his entire sophomore season. The recovery took eight months.

"I feel like it was for the best," Power said. "It changed everything, gave me a new perspective and made me more humble. I feel great and it doesn't bother me any more."

Power returned to run track as a sophomore, and worked his way back for his junior football season. He took over punting duties full time during the playoffs, and hasn't looked back.

This past summer has served as a springboard. Twice, he's was a semifinalist at the prestigious Chris Sailer Kicking Camps, and he was invited to Sailer's top-12 camp in Florida. Power is ranked as the No. 5 punter in the country for the Class of 2018.

"It was interesting," Power said of his experience. "I met a lot of cool people."

He also put in a ton of extra work in the offseason, going as far as shoveling off Ponderosa's field with his dad in the winter to kick and punt. He's worked out with Matt Prater, the former Broncos kicker now with the Detroit Lions who lives nearby.

"The other guys will come (work out in the offseason) occasionally," Ekhoff said. "No one comes as often as him. He's earned this."

It has led to all kinds of recruiting attention. He took an unofficial visit to LSU, and also heard from USC and Alabama. CU and CSU have also been in touch.

"He has something special," said Ekhoff. "The ball just explodes off his foot."

This season, Power is handling all three aspects of the kicking game for the Mustangs: kickoffs, field goals/extra points, and punting.

He leads the state in touchbacks and kickoff yardage, even though he gives up a few kicks each game to younger players to ensure they get a taste of varsity action. Power is also second in the state in PATs, and is 4-of-6 on field goals with a long of 44.

He's also averaging 41.5 yards per punt, and has downed six kicks inside the 20. That last category is a bit deceiving given the fact that Ponderosa is now ranked No. 1 in Class 4A and doesn't exactly punt a whole lot, so Power has only attempted 13 punts through five games.

Ponderosa football Issac Power

(Ryan Casey/CHSAANow.com)

When his team needed him earlier this season, he made a huge impact: Ponderosa punted five times in a season-opening win over Legend, and Power placed three of them inside the 20.

"Yeah," Ponderosa head coach Jaron Cohen said. "He's legit."

In a player review, Chris Sailer wrote that Power has "one of the strongest legs in the nation."

Power said his power comes from his flexibility.

"I can just drive my leg. I'm crazy flexible. Everyone thinks I'm weird," Power said. "It's just the drive and the leg speed and the flexibility. Everything just catapults that sucker up in the air."

That leg strength has allowed the Mustangs to take chances they wouldn't otherwise, given that any missed field goal attempt which goes past the goal line is a touchback per NFHS rules.

"We can just try a long one, and if worse comes to worse, it's just a touchback," Cohen said.

They tried a 61-yarder against Gateway that was just short. Power has hit a 67-yard field goal in practice. Coincidentally, that's the state record — set by Legacy's Kip Smith on a free kick in 2009.

"If I was juiced up and I was ready to go, and I was getting hyped up by my teammates, in the right situation — maybe?" Power said of taking a shot at the state record. "I feel like I've got the leg."

Then he looked at his head coach.

"It's OK to try," he said with a smile.

Power's future, though, likely lies in punting. And that's where his heart is, too.

"I just enjoy punting more than kicking," Power said. "When the ball's flying in the air, and it's in the air for five seconds and you see your guys running down, it's a great feeling. And it's an art, almost: punt it to the sideline, or punt it in the air. It all depends on the scenario, and that's what makes it fun."