Bishop Guertin’s Sanborn gets a kick out of position
It’s a cold afternoon in January or February, and a lone figure is kicking footballs on snow covered field behind Souhegan High School.
That’s how dedicated Bishop Guertin senior Drew Sanborn, an Amherst resident, is to punting, something he considers far more than just an often overlooked facet of a football game.
“It’s an art,” Sanborn said.
And he’s been quite an artist the last couple of years for the Cardinals, averaging well over 40 yards a kick and frustrating opposing offenses who think they’re about to get great field position only to see the ball sail behind them. He could be a factor in Saturday’s Division I semifinal at Pinkerton.
Even in the late fall, after football is over, Sanborn will go over to Stellos Stadium and kick. And kick. And kick.
“I’ll be out there for hours,” he said. “That’s what I’m really looking forward to doing in college.”
“It’s definitely a passion of his,” Guertin coach Travis Cote said. “And he’s being looked at by some good schools. And I think he has an opportunity to go and have a good career.”
Sanborn never punted until his sophomore year. Sure, he had kicked in Pop Warner, but it wasn’t the same. And finally, two years ago, the Cards needed a kicker.
“I didn’t start off too bad,” he said. “Then over the summer I went to a couple of kicking camps and it just went from there.”
“He just kind of did it on his own,” Cote said. “We said we needed one, and he said ‘Coach, I punt.’ Next thing you know he’s booming it. We said, ‘Well, here’s the kid we’re looking for.’ He’s been doing it for three years. He’ll be tough to replace.”
But we’re not talking about a skinny little kicker here who can’t make a tackle. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Sanborn has also been invaluable as an inside linebacker and also a receiver/tight end for the Cards.
That’s why he was missed the first half of the season with a broken finger.
“He’s a great athlete who can run and catch,” Cote said. “He’d been playing inside linebacker. He’s a bigger body that we really missed on defense. He certainly made an impact when he came back right away.”
Sanborn says he loves playing other positions, rather than just waiting for fourth down.
“I love them a lot, I love playing other positions,” he said. “I like to help the team out as much as I can anywhere.”
What does a punter learn? What don’t we know about punting?
“It’s a lot more frustrating than people think,” Sanborn said. “Just getting the right drop, always kicking it, people depend on you to kick the ball far. It’s tough sometimes. You have to always drop it perfect.”
“It’s a huge field position thing,” Cote said. “Especially if you’re backed up. He has the ability to get one off and it changes field position. In high school, that can be so huge. You have a kid that can only kick the ball 20-30 yards vs. a kid that can boom the ball.”
“Everyone thinks like it’s no big deal,” Sanborn said. “Nobody practices for it. I kind of catch some of the other teams off guard when I kick it over their head. I just try my best.”
Sanborn has actually been talking to schools as big as the University of New Hampshire and smaller schools such as Bryant University and Sacred Heart. This is his ticket to an education.
He noticed his junior year that his punting average was 40-plus yards. So this past summer he traveled all around the east coast to kicking camps at colleges – Virginia, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, etc.
Distance or hang time?
“They both go hand in hand, great to have,” he said. “But I’d probably say distance. Just kick it as far as you can.”
That’s why Sanborn will let punting take him as far as it can, too.