“It was really tough,” he said. “I was on the sidelines watching my friends have this success and wanted to be out there. I wanted to come back.”
Making matters worse, the Warriors played most of the 2012 season without a placekicker after star Mark Zavrl tore his ACL and was lost for the season in Week 3. Andover ended up sending six different players to try extra points.
“After we lost Zav we really never settled on a kicker,” said Keenan. “We tried out a bunch of different guys. It’s important to have a reliable kicker.”
In the offseason, Payne began focusing on giving football and kicking another shot, and word made its way to the coaching staff that the kicker may be back in the mix.
“Ryan is good friends with the son of (special teams coach) Peter Reilly,” said Andover coach E.J. Perry. “Peter had talked to Ryan during the summer and asked him if he wanted to come out for football again. He regretted not playing last year. He worked a lot during the summer and Peter gave him the first shot at the kicking job.”
Once camp opened, the Warriors began to realize they may have solved their kicking situation as Payne beat out standout linebacker Brian Duffy for the job.
“Payne was definitely a little rusty at first,” said Keenan. “But the more he worked, the better and more confident he got and we started to feel really good.”
But an impressive showing in camp is quite different from kicking in the pressure of a big game, and Payne was quickly called upon on Andover’s first drive of the season to kick a 23-yard field goal.
“Going out for the first one, I was very nervous,” said Payne. “Then the snap was a little high and I got really nervous. But Cam, who is a great holder, put it down and I got it though. I just wanted to kick another one.”