Sammons’ mastery, weaponry treat to see


Burg kicker, punter a rare find

By Paul Boggs - [email protected]



Wheelersburg’s Braxton Sammons (80) graduated as a three-time Division V all-Ohio football player, twice as a placekicker and once as a punter.

Wheelersburg’s Braxton Sammons (80) graduated as a three-time Division V all-Ohio football player, twice as a placekicker and once as a punter.


Courtesy of Terry Stevenson of www.burgsports.com

Boggs


Courtesy of Terry Stevenson of www.burgsports.com

WHEELERSBURG — At his recent college signing ceremony, Wheelersburg’s Braxton Sammons spent almost 20 total minutes talking football — basically kicking and punting of course — with The Portsmouth Daily Times sports staff.

He then apologized immediately afterwards.

It was one of those “I’m sorry that went so long, but guys, I can talk football for hours” apologies for an interview.

But, we quickly interrupted — for we weren’t complaining about anything.

That’s right, Sammons need not apologize.

To the contrary, it was refreshing to hear Sammons speak about the great game at great length, giving hope he has a possible television or radio — or even Internet streaming — color commentator career once his kicking and/or punting days are done.

Instead, we should be thanking him.

We will miss Sammons doing what he does best with Wheelersburg —for not only his football knowledge, IQ and candor, but his mastery and weaponry with the art that comes with kicking and punting.

The three-time Division V all-Ohioan as selected by our Ohio Prep Sports Writers Association statewide panel, two years as a placekicker and once as a punter, is bound for the Murray State University Racers —as a preferred walk-on and redshirt for fall of 2022.

Sammons, a first-team all-Ohio placekicker as a senior after earning third team as a sophomore and second-team punter status as a junior, graduated as the Pirates’ single-season and career leader in field goals, as well as the program’s career leader in punt average.

He was a first-team all-Southeast District Division V selection in each of those campaigns as well.

In fact, because I am the all-Southeast District selection panel chairperson and represent the immediate and primary Portsmouth area, Sammons was Wheelersburg’s top-rated player on its submitted list of nominations —but most deservedly so.

As a senior, when Wheelersburg won the Southern Ohio Conference Division II for the second time in his three-year varsity career and finished as Region 19 runner-up, Sammons — not counting the Pirates’ playoffs points against West (23), Ridgewood (24), Ironton (17) and Harvest Prep (17) — scored a whopping 59 points.

He made 32 of 33 extra-point kicks, booted 9-of-15 field goals with his longest of 42 yards, punted 38 times with an average of 41.3 yards per punt including 15 inside the 20-yard line, and sailed 52 kickoffs with 15 going for touchbacks.

In short, and in one fell swoop, that is more than getting it done on special teams.

But, that’s just his regular-season numbers though.

Against visiting and archrival West in the opening round of the state playoffs, Sammons was arguably the Pirates’ MVP —accounting for two extra points following two Ethan Glover touchdown runs, and perhaps more importantly three made field goals in the 23-14 triumph.

Sammons drilled a 30-yarder before first-half time expired, then banged home in the fourth quarter a 28-yarder early —and a season-long 43-yarder late.

For those into counting, that’s three points per field goal for nine total —and added extra points times two for 11 of those Pirates’ 23.

However, the greater point being, Sammons sure made his points add up —and most certainly count.

Against host Ridgewood in the Region 19 quarterfinal, Sammons sailed through a 25-yard field goal only eight minutes in, then tacked on the PATs following the Pirates’ three touchdowns.

Wheelersburg won 24-20, as his punting probably played an even greater role in that victory against the Generals.

With five-and-a-half minutes remaining, and following Wheelersburg recovering a General fumble right at Ridgewood’s red zone, the Pirates burned three full minutes off the clock from there — before Sammons sent a 45-yard punt down to the Ridgewood 5-yard-line.

And, that was Sammons’ shortest punt of his four attempts.

His first-half pair flipped the field for 53 and 52 yards — before his massive 70-yard boomer and roller resulted in a touchback.

Speaking of touchbacks, Sammons’ kickoffs resulted in those or were quite close —as his three first-half boots sailed inside the Generals’ 10-yard-line.

His bookend punts rolled dead inside the five, while his second and third tries resulted in touchbacks.

Against Ironton in the Region 19 semifinal, Sammons made a clutch 28-yarder in the cold with only three minutes and eight seconds gone by —before going 2-of-2 on extra-point kicks, in the Pirates’ 14-point and memorable fourth-quarter comeback.

Wheelersburg won 17-14, although Sammons’ senior season and outstanding Pirate kicking career concluded unfortunately the following week —with two more extra points and one 25-yard field goal with 56-and-a-half seconds remaining in the opening half.

This time, against Harvest Prep, Wheelersburg was on the wrong end of a second-half rally — as the Warriors reversed course and won 20-17.

For his career, Sammons made 24-of-38 field-goal attempts —his career-long actually occurring in his sophomore season, which was a 45-yard thriller against Ashland.

That sent that contest into overtime, which Wheelersburg won 34-33 — and essentially kick-started Sammons’ legendary Pirate career.

“Going into that game, I hadn’t made a kick at all. Going into that game, there was a lot of uncertainty,” said Sammons. “So to go 6-of-6 (on all attempts of either extra points or field goals) in that game, and making that kick was huge, it was a big confidence boost for me because from that game on, I knew I had the ability.”

And, Wheelersburg coach Rob Woodward knew what kind of weapon he had —on both sides of the ball.

Sammons punted 85 times in his career for an average of 42 yards per punt.

“Braxton was just such a weapon. Multiple games, we were able to pin teams inside the five-yard line. That limits their playbook and gives us some more chances we can take defensively,” said Woodward. “And offensively, we know we can always kick a field goal when we get in range with Braxton, or punt and establish better field position. He got better and better not just with his kicking, but recognizing the different pressure defenses were putting on him.”

Sammons, to be blunt, is one of the best kickers —and punters —to ever play in Southeastern Ohio, or even the entire state.

His statistics, and accolades, both back that claim up —and, in fact, it ALMOST reached automatic status as far as I was concerned covering those Pirate games.

Grant it, the snap, the hold and the kick ALL have to be executed correctly — but whenever Sammons missed, it wasn’t for a lack of confidence.

Sometimes, it’s just a matter of mere razor-thin inches —like when Wheelersburg played at Jackson last season, and lost 21-20 in overtime.

Sammons had a 51-yard field-goal attempt on the final snap in regulation to end it and give Wheelersburg the walk-off win, but his Alumni Stadium record try clanged directly off the crossbar.

Chillicothe’s Drew Basil, who went on to be a primary placekicker at Ohio State, set that stadium record in 2008 —knocking a 50-yarder dead-center through the uprights against the Ironmen.

I know, because I was there covering it — all those years ago.

As for years to come, our immediate area may not see a kicker and/or punter combination quite like Sammons for a while — a dual threat with his leg and foot that did plenty of talking football for him.

Wheelersburg’s Braxton Sammons (80) graduated as a three-time Division V all-Ohio football player, twice as a placekicker and once as a punter.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/06/web1_Braxton-Sammons-.jpgWheelersburg’s Braxton Sammons (80) graduated as a three-time Division V all-Ohio football player, twice as a placekicker and once as a punter. Courtesy of Terry Stevenson of www.burgsports.com

Boggs
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/06/web1_Paul-Headshot-1-1-2.jpgBoggs Courtesy of Terry Stevenson of www.burgsports.com
Burg kicker, punter a rare find

By Paul Boggs

[email protected]

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved