It’s appropriate that Spokane Shock kicker Sawyer Petre has an affinity for cowboy boots.
They’re sturdy and often reliable, akin to Petre and his right leg.
Petre, who considers himself a country boy although he was raised in the Denver metropolitan area, leads the Indoor Football League in field-goal percentage (8 for 12, 66.7%).
In the compressed, 8-on-8 indoor football game in which kickoffs can’t go out of bounds, Petre exhibits some rural grit when hunting down shifty returners.
“(In indoor football), there’s a good chance a kicker is going to have to get in there and make a play,” said Petre, who was a starting linebacker in high school. “I wouldn’t say I’m a great tackler, but I’ll get in the mix.”
Shock coach Billy Back can count on the red-headed Petre’s special teams energy.
“Him going down there and making tackles, that sets the tone,” Back said. “That sparks the team. He is a stud.”
Pressure is the other major component to professional kicking, but Petre hasn’t faced a stressful situation during his short time in Spokane.
He passed that test his rookie season as a member of the Arizona Rattlers when he kicked a winning, 28-yard field goal to clip the Sioux Falls Storm in the 2017 United Bowl, the IFL’s version of the Super Bowl.
Petre will be reunited with his former team on Friday when the third-ranked Shock (4-1) visit the second-ranked Rattlers (4-1) at Phoenix Suns Arena.
The Rattlers, a former longtime Arena Football League that had previously established a healthy rivalry with the Shock before both organizations switched to the IFL and the AFL disbanded, gave Petre his start.
Petre had an All-Northwest kicking and punting career at the University of Puget Sound, an NCAA Division III team and longtime league rival of Whitworth.
Petre believed he had the leg strength and accuracy worthy of NFL interest, but it never transpired.
During fall 2016, months after graduating from Puget Sound with degrees in exercise science and business, he came across a Rattlers tryout advertisement on Facebook.
Petre soon made the drive from Colorado to Phoenix and impressed at the tryout.
Months later, he was one of the IFL’s most consistent kickers and helped the Rattlers win a championship.
“I still know half the roster down there,” Petre said. “I love coach (Kevin Guy), coach (Jeff Jarnigan).
“Top to bottom, from owners, coaches to players, I have nothing but respect for that franchise.”
Petre played for Arizona in 2017 and 2018 – he totaled 134 points in those impressive seasons – before taking 2019 off for a long visit to China.
When he returned in 2020 and signed with the Shock, the pandemic canceled the season, but the two-year layoff didn’t seem to deter him.
In Saturday’s 63-37 win over the Northern Arizona Wranglers, he connected on field goals from 48 and 39 yards and hit 6 of 7 extra points.
“I have seen him make 58-yard field goals in practice,” Back said.
Petre hopes his efforts can lead to an NFL tryout.
“I want to keep putting together film, hope to (get noticed),” Petre said. “I’ll keep playing as long as I can, until it isn’t fun anymore. I’m having fun.”
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