Gridiron or soccer pitch, Ramey and Chenault make a difference
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

March 29, 2005 - When it comes to football or futbol, Wildcat fans are used to seeing Eric Chenault and Jared Ramey make a difference.

The two starting forwards on the SSHS soccer team were also big parts of the Wildcats' football success the last two years.

As the Wildcats prepare to travel to Lindale tonight for the area round playoff game against Henderson, they will be looking for Ramey and Chenault to continue doing what they've done all year - generate offense by using their speed and strength.

"They add a lot of speed to our offense. Up top, we're very fast - a lot faster than we've ever been," said SSHS head coach Andy Holt. "Those guys can run and that helps a ton. When we play balls over the top, they can get on to them."

Chenault, in fact, says that's what he likes most about the game.

"I like to run past people. I like being up top, making this happen and scoring goals - but mostly, I like to run past people," he said.

The speed work and weight training that go into football has also helped him in soccer.

"Weight training makes you a lot tougher," Chenault said. "It kind of changes the style you play, because you're not in soccer all year long, but it makes you a lot tougher, and you can win more balls because you have more strength."

Ramey leads the team in scoring with 14 goals despite missing seven district games with a dislocated elbow. Chenault has scored nine goals, and Holt credits him with spreading the scoring around. Seven different players have scored at least five goals this season.

"Even when Eric doesn't score goals, he makes things happen," Holt said. "He does a great job of posting up and being a target player, releasing the ball and getting it spread around. He's doing a great job of being a playmaker. "

Chenault has been on varsity for three years, playing forward most of that time. Holt has seen his maturation since his sophomore season.

"He did a great job of coming off the bench as a sophomore, and really grew into himself," Holt explained. "His tenacity on the field is unmatched. When he gets after it, he really does get after it.

"This year, he's taken on that leadership responsibility as well."

Eric, the son of Joe and Shirley Chenault, is active in his youth group at First Baptist Church, and has taught soccer camps during mission trips to Montana. This year, he will do the same on a church-sponsored trip to Nicaragua.

Unlike his classmate, Ramey has not played on the SSHS soccer team until this year. Though he has played indoor soccer since he was young, he hasn't played outdoor until his senior year. He was going to play for the Wildcats last year, but knee surgery ended those plans.

"This year, he's been a great addition to the program because he's such a competitor," Coach Holt said. "He's an athlete, and he wants to win."

Ramey's speed has helped the Wildcats win 20 games for the first time in school history, and now they try to advance to the third round of the playoffs for just the third time.

"I'm having a blast. It's fun," Ramey said. "I haven't played outdoor in a while, but it's fun."

Football fans know Ramey's physical toughness, playing with a torn ACL his entire junior year, and being one of the leading tacklers on defense his senior season. Soccer has its own physical - and mental - toughness.

"A lot of people think soccer isn't a physical sport, but it is. Especially since it's body-on-body," he said.

"But, soccer is more patient because you have to wait for the right balls, things like that. Football has its strategy, but soccer also has it, and it plays out during the game."

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