Their personalities could not fit the positions they play on the football field any better. Keanu Ammons, the flashy junior wide receiver, is quick with a smile or a joke and is incredibly descriptive when talking about what he does on the field.
His older brother, Joe, a running back and defensive end, is quite the opposite. Befitting of a player who does all the dirty work, Joe is quiet and more reserved. It takes a little bit longer to get a smile out of him. It is easy to realize he is all business.
His primary responsibility is carrying the ball, picking up yards after contact and constantly being blocked as he attempts to crash through the line of scrimmage or attack a running back trying to hit the edge.
But one thing they both share, besides a last name, is the fact that their 2017 season took a bit longer to get started than they anticipated.
Keanu missed four games because of a broken thumb. Joe got his chance when injuries took a big chunk out of Nanticoke Area’s depth chart. However, once both were able to get on the field, the impact they had on the team was noticeable right from the start.
“I was out for four games, but once I got back at it, my first game against Northwest, 87-yard kick return for a touchdown,” Keanu said. “From there, I just started making a bigger impact.”
It took Joe a bit longer to make his presence felt.
Once injuries began to take its toll on the Nanticoke Area backfield, it became next-man-up mentality. That next man was Joe. He carried the ball in six games, rushed for 537 yards and six touchdowns. He also averaged 10.5 yard per carry.
“I didn’t think I would be playing halfback last year,” Joe admitted. “After Eric Jeffries got injured, coach (Ron Bruza) put me in there and told me it would be a good fit for me. This year, I just came and continued to do the same things I was doing last year.”
And for the both of them this year, it has been so far, so good. The playmaking abilities have carried over, and it is a big reason why the Trojans are 2-1 heading into tonight’s key mathcup at Wyoming Area.
Joe is leading the team in rushing with 345 yards and two touchdowns. He is averaging 6.5 yards per carry. Keanu has rushed for 59 yards and a score. Keanu is also averaging 27.8 yards per catch and has returned one punt 64 yards for a touchdown.
“I’m just back there trying to do the best I can,” Keanu said. “Just want to get us the best field position I can. I just catch it and go from there. I look for the first guy coming down the field. Then I look for Darren (Boseman), the other return man back there with me. Last year, they used to kick to me all the time. If they do kick to me, I’m not going to lie, I’m looking to take it to the house. It’s the best feeling in the world when you see the end zone. Just another blessing.”
In a way, Keanu takes his role on special teams and offense as a challenge. Boseman is capable of making big plays of his own on special teams, and is slotted in as the team’s primary receiver. So when Keanu gets his opportunities, he plays with the idea that he has to make something happen. Plus, there is the fact the Trojans are a team that is usually run-oriented.
Joe feels the same way. With the offensive line being a question mark coming into the season, he felt it would take a while for the unit to become a cohesive one. After three games, the line has come together quicker than anticipated. That has made Joe’s job a bit easier when it comes to hearing his number called in the huddle.
“Our offensive line is young, but they are getting better as we go along,” Joe said. “I think they have played great. They want to get better. They work really hard.”
Aside from what is thrown at them from the football perspective within their own program, there was the challenge of moving up from Class 3A to 4A.
Both agree there are differences between the two classifications.
“I’m happy we get to play the bigger teams,” Keanu said. “It has been a big change. It’s a lot tougher getting around the linebackers.”
It’s a lot harder, definitely,” Joe said. “It is more competition. We have to fight until the end. If we don’t, we know the other team can crawl back in and end up beating us.”
The fight to the end was evident last week when the Trojans erased a 6-0 deficit with a fourth-quarter touchdown to beat Coughlin. It was a win they hope the team can build off as they head toward a tough stretch of five games.
While Keanu and Joe are working with the rest of the team to keep the team competitive, there is a bit of a competitive nature between the two out on the field.
“I’m very competitive with my brother,” Keanu said with a laugh. “He thinks he is the better player. He is a better player on defense. I am better on offense. Sometimes I don’t think he is playing to his best, and he doesn’t think I am playing to my best. It’s friendly, but sometimes it can get interesting. We don’t take it home with us.”
Joe believes his younger brother has a point, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
“Us together, we have our on and offs,” Joe said. “We are good together. Sometimes he tells me things are there and they aren’t. I haven’t been playing up to my potential on defense for a while. I haven’t gotten in a groove yet. I just think I can better than I have been on the defensive side. He is more of a vocal leader. When I see people slacking off, that is when I start talking. He is young and still has another year to go. I like to see him getting better as time goes along.”
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