BLUEFIELD, WV (WOAY) – W.When veteran kicker / punter Tanner Griffith of Bluefield College was injured in the season opener against Union College last week, the coaching staff had to get a little creative ahead of their next game against St. Andrews on February 13th.
They only had one other kicker on the roster, Elijah Wilshire. But he had little punting experience and was mainly used for shorter kicks. Special team coach Phillip Dunford came up with the idea of recruiting two football players, Axel Johansson, a junior central defender from Sweden, and Jake Mendoza, a second goalkeeper from Stattford, VA.
Mendoza had previously played football in high school and even as a freshman at Bluefield College. Johansson had hardly seen the sport before, let alone played it. He kicked a soccer ball for the first time on Monday, February 8, just five days before the St. Andrew’s game. With the help of Dunford and Griffith, Johansson was able to quickly take up the sport.
The Bluefield College coaching team’s gambling has paid off. Johansson made two extra points and a 28-yard field goal to take the lead with just 2:09 in the game. He also took care of all the kickoff tasks. Meanwhile, Mendoza showed little rust on the grate, poking four times for 115 yards for a length of 44.
Next up are Mendoza, Johansson and the Bluefield College Rams next Saturday against Kentucky Christian.