Friday Night Hero: East Rowan’s Andrew May

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 7, 2009

By Mike London
GRANITE QUARRY ó East Rowan’s Andrew May provided inspiration for soccer players all over the state last Friday.
The switch-kicker, who punts lefty and place-kicks righty, won a football game.
Well, not by himself, but the 5-foot-9, 148-pounder was the dominant Mustang. He accounted for three field goals and two PATS and controlled field position in a heated 29-26 NPC win against Carson.
“As soon as I saw No. 5 (Shaun Warren) run the ball the first time, I knew it would be tough,” May said. “I never plan to miss a kick, but I knew this would be a game where every kick was important.”
Carson had 111 more rushing yards than the Mustangs and 101 more passing yards.
How did East win? Start with May, kickoff man Taylor Owen, snapper Nathan Robbins, holder Jamey Blalock, all the guys on special teams.
“Any coach who says he spends as much time on special teams as offense or defense is lying,” East coach Brian Hinson said. “But it’s that third phase and the kicking game was definitely to our advantage. Andrew scores 11 of our 29. Just as important, he averages 39 yards on his punts with no return yards.”
May has the right temperament. Competitive, confident. If he misses one, he’s sure he’ll make the next one.
“He’s outgoing,” Hinson said. “He’ll talk to a wall.”
May’s first love is soccer. He’s played the sport 15 years, 13 more than football. He’s a top-notch defender for an East soccer squad that is highly competitive in the NPC.
Former East star Kenny Barnes taught May the basics of footballs and uprights when May was a sophomore. After that, May attended camps, including the Ray Guy Kicking Academy. Fans old enough to remember him will tell you Ray Guy is the best punter who ever lived. May got pointers from an expert.
“I learned form,” May said. “Then I got into football.”
May became East’s regular kicker in 2008. His first PAT attempt was blocked. His second one missed. Hinson stuck with him. He finished his junior year with 13 points, two more than he scored Friday.
Since last season, there have been camps, long weekends of practice and weightlifting classes with Hinson. May is solid and strong. He has squatted 300 pounds.
“Last year in soccer, I was getting knocked to the ground a lot,” May said. “This year, I’m knocking people down.”
In East’s fourth game this season, May missed two field goals. Sometimes, as good as his leg is, he pulls the ball right. Probably he missed because he spent his summer concentrating on punting.
But he made a huge field goal against West Iredell, calmly knocking through a 26-yarder to win on the final play. That high-pressure boot set the stage for the Carson game.
It was still 0-0 when May broke the ice. He made a 26-yarder for a 3-0 halftime lead.
“Scoring right before the half changed the whole aura of our team,” May said. “But it was the slowest kick of my life. It took three seconds, and it’s supposed to take two. No. 6 (Zack Grkman) got a hand on it ó I could hear it ó but it still went through. Our line blocked for that whole extra second. I don’t know all the names, but I trust in them.”
In the third quarter, May made it 6-0 from 31. Then he made it 9-0 from 33. His first two punts of the second half traveled 46 and 49 yards.
“My first punt was almost blocked,” May said. “After that, no one came close to me.”
The defensive duel turned into a shootout. East pulled it out. Without May, no way it would have happened.
“People at school tell me I was the hero two weeks in a row because it’s OT if I don’t make those field goals,” May said. “But I don’t see myself as a hero. I just did my job.”
Did it all night long.