Two field goals and a game-winning extra point are a career stat line for many high school kickers.
Andover’s Ryan Payne accomplished that in his first ever varsity game, then added another crucial field goal in his second game as Golden Warrior kicker.
Not a bad way to start a varsity career.
“I never could have imagined that this would happen to me,” said Payne. “I feel so lucky that I had the opportunity and made it count. I never thought I would have the chance to win a game for the team.”
In the Andover football opener this season, Payne became the most unlikely of Andover football heroes when he booted the extra point — his fifth made kick in five tries including the game-tying point — that was the winning margin in the Golden Warriors’ overtime victory over North Andover.
Then, a week later, his 27-yard field goal helped Andover take BC High to overtime.
It was the culmination of an unusual journey for a senior who had never appeared in a varsity game, did not even play football as a junior, and did not solidify his spot as varsity kicker until late in camp.
“After taking a year off, you wonder if he is ready in the first game,” said Andover coach E.J. Perry. “The first one was the biggest. It was a tough kick and he put it right through the uprights. He proved he had ice water in his veins.”
A soccer player as a youngster in San Diego, Payne made the transition to football when he moved to Andover in the third grade. Immediately, he was drawn to kicking.
“After playing soccer, I thought I could kick,” he said. “I kicked a football once and I just loved it.”
In his first high school season, he kicked for the Andover freshman team, and as a sophomore he kicked for the JV team. But he soon began to lose his passion for the game.