Putting the cuffs on 'em
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
Sept. 28, 2004 - With both of his parents in law enforcement, Patrick Radney is contemplating a criminal justice major when he goes to college.
As defensive end for the Sulphur Springs Wildcats, he's certainly putting opposing defenses in lock down, though he's doing so at a disadvantage.
Radney, a senior two-year lettermen, gets down in the trenches against 300-pound tackles and 250-pound tight ends, though he only goes 5-11, 175 pounds.
Coaches thought he could succeed at defensive end, switching from outside linebacker as a junior, but Radney wasn't so convinced initially that he could take the physical pounding that goes with the position.
"The coaches were excited about it. They wanted to get me excited about it, but I didn't want to at first," Radney admits. "At first, I really didn't like it. I'm so much littler than most of the guys that we play. The first game was pretty rough on me."
He has emerged as the fourth-leading tackler on the team with 35 stops in the first five games. He also has seven tackles for losses and is tied for the team lead with two sacks.
"As the games have been going by, I've been playing a lot better and getting more and more used to it," he explained. "At first, I wanted to try to take them on head-on and kind of got pounded on a little bit because of my size. But, using my speed and quickness and hands, I can get off the blocks quicker on most plays."
That's what SSHS head coach Brad Turner and his staff expected when they down-sized most of the positions in the transformation from the 3-4 defense from a year ago to the 4-4 they now employ.
"Part of the philosophy is that we wanted as much speed on the field as possible. We kind of started at the top and converted some of the DBs to outside linebackers and some of the outside linebackers to D-ends, and some of the ends to tackles and linebackers to tackles," Turner explained. "We kind of converted down to get as much speed on the field as we could.
"We thought Rad would be more beneficial to us there, because he's strong. He's a powerlifter, and he runs well. He's super smart, so he's going to get lined up right."
Radney is a member of the National Honor Society and takes many AP courses, including calculus, his favorite. The son of Michael Radney and Cheryl Burt, he's also active in FCA and plays baseball and pole vaults on the track team.
It doesn't take a mathematical genius to know he's giving up more than 100 pounds to the guy across the line of scrimmage on most game nights.
"There are some plays that I kind of get man-handled," Radney said. "I kind of laughed about it before, but now I'm playing against those guys. I try to give my all. One play, they might knock me down and lay on top of me, but I've got to get up and play hard the next play and keep attacking."
It's that kind of attitude that coaches knew would prevail no matter what position they put him in.
Turner said one of the objectives on defense is to put players on the field who can sniff out the football no matter whether they fit the profile of the prototypical player at that position.
"Patrick's one of them you look at and he's not real big and he's not real fast, but he's big enough and fast enough," the coach explained. "What he does as good as anybody on our defense is he makes plays. He has a knack for getting to the football.
"You line up against somebody with a 250-pound tight end and you wonder if he can hold up, and he always does. He has to drop into space, and you wonder if he can cover, and he always does. It's one of those things that it doesn't matter where you put him, he's going to make plays because he's a football player."