PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — There are many reasons Parkersburg South entered Week 8 as one of three unbeaten teams still remaining in Class AAA. Quarterback Brandon Penn has accounted for over two thousand all-purpose yards and 24 touchdowns. Devin Gaines has scored ten touchdowns and Dylan Day has added six more scores.
And then there is Braxton Amos. He is second on the team in tackles for loss and sacks and he has blocked four kicks.
“I was still uncomfortable until the Huntington game,” Amos said. “When our backs were against the wall at the three, it all started clicking again.”
Let’s back up a little bit. Amos is not your typical senior lineman. In fact, he hadn’t played any type of organized football since middle school. “Eighth grade was the last time I played in full pads.”
There are a few reasons Amos put the shoulder pads and helmet on the shelf. He suffered a significant knee injury during his freshman year. Then in 2017 and 2018, Amos became one of the nation’s elite wrestlers in the 220 pound weight class. Amos won national level events and was one of the country’s top college recruits. Last month, Amos verbally committed to wrestle at Wisconsin.
“A lot of people asked me, ‘Why Wisconsin?’ And it got to the point of, ‘Why not Wisconsin.’ Ultimately, Wisconsin felt like home and I feel like I can be successful there.”
“It is going to be ten guys in a bracket at the Big 10 Tournament and all ten of those guys were top ten recruits in the country. So it is going to be fun.”
Amos has dominated in his two high school seasons. In winning all 94 of his matches for the Patriots, he has not surrendered a single offensive point.
“With wrestling, it is constantly evolving. There’s trends to get used to. It is tough to deal with. But it is fun.”
After enduring an injury at a national tournament in Fargo this summer, Amos worked his way back to full health and then decided to return to the gridiron for the first time in four years.
“After I got cleared, I asked Coach (Tanner), ‘Hey, is there still a chance I would be welcome?’ He said, ‘Yeah, suit up and let’s go.'”
“Braxton is a highly intelligent kid,” said first-year PSHS head coach Nathan Tanner. “We taught him some technique but as a wrestler, leverage, hands and he has great hips and feet. A lot of that is just really natural to him.”
“It is very similar. Footwork and hand fighting, it is kind of like riding a bike. Once you do it once, you can kind of feel it out and get used to it again.”
While the transition between sports has been a smooth one, Amos admits there is a big difference between the compact battle of a wrestling match and the series of battles that make up a 48-minute football game.
“With wrestling, you can have the mindset that I can do anything for six minutes. Football is like two hours worth of five-second sprints. So there’s definitely a different conditioning aspect to things. But it is still a lot of fun.”