Traxler still getting kicks
Mifflin County grad played in Canada
WILLIAMSPORT — Representing your country as an athlete is one of the most rewarding things that sports can provide a person.
That’s why Andrew Traxler, a 2015 Mifflin County High School graduate and a former kicker for the Huskies, jumped on the opportunity to play with Lycoming College over the offseason against Vanier College in Montreal, Quebec.
“I had never been out of the country, so they told us back in late January-early February at a team meeting that we were going to go to Canada to play a game,” Traxler said. “It was a new experience to get a passport and get prepared for traveling to Canada while preparing to play a game.”
The biggest challenge of the trip was the difference in the game — playing in Canada, Traxler, a junior at Lycoming College, had to adjust to the Canadian football field as well as Canadian rules.
Canadian football is played with 12 players on each side of the ball, features a field that is 12-yards wider and one of its biggest changes is that the goal posts are located at the front of the end zone.
“It was definitely interesting. They had 12 guys so we had to figure out how to implement a 12th man,” Traxler said. “On offense, we used an extra receiver, and defensively I’m not sure what we did. We didn’t use any motion guys like they did, but it was interesting to see the ways we implemented the 12th guy and got to see the way they play with different rules.”
Those differences equipped with the wider hashes made for a much different kicking game for Traxler.
“The hash marks are a little bit wider, so getting out and adjusting to the field wasn’t all that difficult, but for PATs it was closer, so I had to really worry about getting the ball up for a 10-yard field goal on the right hash,” Traxler said. “I’ve lined up at the 10-yard line before, but I had never kicked from that angle with the wider hashes, but I made the kick. It was a little different but overall I made the adjustment and it worked out well.”
The teams added a fourth down for the game instead of following the Canadian game’s rule of just three downs, to try to even the playing field, Traxler said.
Lycoming College’s Nick Costello caught a touchdown pass in the game’s final quarter to put the Warriors on top, 24-20. The Warriors held the lead to win the contest, which was played in May. Traxler went 1-of-3 kicking on the day, knocking in from 10-yards, but missing from 25 yards and 33 yards out.
While in Canada, Traxler was able to explore a different culture, as the team visited downtown Montreal twice during the trip.
“We got there on Friday and as soon as we got there we took a tour of Old Montreal and explored the history of the city which was very interesting,” Traxler said. “Some of the older buildings and some of the nice shops and markets were cool. Later Friday night, we went to downtown Montreal and it was really interesting. The people were very friendly and we got to explore some nice restaurants. It was very enjoyable to explore the city and a new culture.”
While at Mifflin County, Traxler said his favorite memories included playing at Mitchell Field.
“Definitely playing at Mitchell Field with all of the students and fans and playing at a field with stands on three sides of the field and having that atmosphere was really cool,” Traxler said. “I particularly enjoyed kicking into the student section before the game and after halftime. It was just an incredible experience and I really enjoyed playing high school football at Mifflin County.”
Traxler hit the game-winning PAT against State College as Mifflin County defeated the Little Lions 27-26 in the 2013 District playoffs. He has also worked hard to improve his range the last two seasons at Lycoming, and can now hit field goals from as far as 55 yards out.
“I put a video up on YouTube where I hit a 54-yarder at Penn State kicking through the rugby posts. I can hit somewhere between 50 and 55 yards, depending on the day,” Traxler said. “I hit 50 yards on my own last spring, so I’m definitely working on my distance, but the most important thing is accuracy.”
Most kickers are extremely superstitious on game day, but unlike most kickers, Traxler isn’t particularly superstitious. His pre-game ritual includes reading his Bible and praying before warmups.
“Before a game I’ll listen to Christian music, read my Bible and then go out and kick before I come back in and read my Bible and listen to music again,” Traxler said. “When we run out on to the field and I come out and get on a knee at the kicking net and pray. That’s definitely the one thing I feel like I have to do before and after every game.”
Traxler perceives playing college football as a blessing and thanked God, his family and coaches for getting him to where he is today.
“I want to thank my lord and savior Jesus Christ, because obviously if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be where I am at right now,” Traxler said. “I’d also like to thank my parents. My mom was the one who first got me into kicking and said that I should try it out. My dad also pushed me to do my best on and off the field, and drove me to my recruiting visits. I want to thank my siblings for being so supportive as well as the coaches at Lycoming College for allowing me to be a part of the team and for giving me opportunities.”
The Lycoming College football team finished the 2017 season 4-6. Traxler will once again compete with Jamie Fisher for the starting kicker position in 2018.