|Wildcats Fox and Jones living up to their captains titles|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
Feb. 4, 2005 - On a team with several seniors who could have been voted captains, SSHS head soccer coach Andy Holt said the the players picked two of the best.
Senior sweeper John Fox and outside left midfielder Wilson Jones were named Wildcat team captains by their teammates, and Holt said both are living up to their titles.
"I think they were very good picks," said Holt. "We have a lot of seniors who have the qualities of being a captain, but it was good to see those two guys get it because they're good role models.
"They've both done things that makes the team better. John switched to sweeper this year, and Wilson took up cross country so he could run up and down the line better."
They are leading a team that is 7-6 overall after a grueling non-district schedule that paid off with a 2-1 win over arch rival Mount Pleasant on Tuesday in a game that will likely go a long way in determining the District 13-4A championship.
Their duties as captains include leading their teammates in pre-game stretching and drills, talking to referees and generally being ambassadors for the team. It also includes setting an example for others to follow.
That became clear when Holt told Fox he was moving to the sweeper position this year. The way the Wildcats play defense, the sweeper's importance can't be overstated - as evidenced by Nick Kennon's district MVP selection last season.
"Up until this summer, I really didn't like playing sweeper, but I had to accept that's what I would be playing, so I've gotten used to it now," Fox admitted. "Coach Holt pretty much just came up to me and said that's what I was going to be playing and I needed to get ready, so I said, 'All right.' "
Holt picked him as sweeper because of his knowledge of the game, abilities and personality. The sweeper has to be vocal in directing the defense.
"John's really like the quarterback back there. He's directing traffic, getting people to mark up, and being a communicator to let people know what's going on," Holt explained. "Then, he sweeps everything up in case someone makes a mistake. In that sense, he's kind of like a free safety in football where he's making plays where they need to be made."
Fox, who also plays bass guitar in jazz band, understands his role. Like musicians in a band, soccer players must blend together as a unit.
"I have to stay extremely vocal the whole time because we're playing a bunch a teams that move around a lot without the ball. We have to keep our heads about us and communicate real well," he said. "One of my important jobs is to direct the back and let everyone know what's going on."
While Fox is absorbed in defense and clearing balls, Jones is constantly running up and down the sideline as he converts instantly from offense to defense.
"My job is to get down the field, cross the ball and then get right back and play defense. There's a lot of running involved," he said. "Coach doesn't like laziness, and he thinks everyone should be doing their job on the field, and everyone has a job on the field. He tells us at the first of the year what our role is when we're out there."
Since Jones plays virtually the entire game, he became serious about cross country this season as a tool to become a more well-conditioned soccer player. His cross country commitment paid off with a sixth-place finish at district which helped the Wildcats to a regional berth.
"Wilson is supposed to run up and down that line. That's one of the reasons he got involved in cross country this year, because he knew he would be out there on the line," Holt said. "He has to run up and down the line, send the ball in and play solid defense. As a midfielder, you have to play both offense and defense, and he does a good job with both."
In their final non-district tournament, Jones scored three goals in four games.
Wilson, the son of Dr. Charles and Judy Jones, plans to attend UT-Tyler after high school to play soccer and major in kinesiology with an eye on becoming a soccer coach himself.
As a student of the game, he said the Wildcats' demeanor helped them to beat Mount Pleasant and take the early 13-4A lead.
"It's always us and Mount Pleasant in a dog fight, but we think we're a smarter team and keep our heads about us," Jones said. "As captains, we bear the responsibilities of our whole team. We try to calm our team down and keep our heads in the game."