Ramaker casts own shadow

Published 3:05 pm Saturday, November 22, 2008

Albert Lea Tribune Player of the Year

2007 – Blake Kerkhoff, NRHEG

2006 – Ryan Wach, A-C

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2005 – Matt Hengesteg, Northwood-Kensett

2004 – Bjorn Peterson, NRHEG

2003 – Lee Nelson, Northwood-Kensett

2002 – Jason Kuipers, Albert Lea

2001 – Paul Kleven, Glenville-Emmons

2000 – Alex Drescher, A-C

1999 – Josh Delger, Glenville-Emmons

1998 – Jack Johnson, Northwood-Kensett, Chad Mattson, A-C

1997 – Josh Stieler,

Albert Lea

1996 -Corey Mills, Northwood-Kensett

1995 – Steve Nolander, Albert Lea

1994 – Jeff Pederson, Lake Mills

1993 – Josh Dodd, Northwood-Kensett

1992 – Terry Truebenbach, NRHEG

1991 – Scott Sommers, NRHEG

When Greg Ramaker isn’t running on his family farm doing chores and milking the family cow herd he can be found running for the New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva Panthers.

This past season Ramaker ran for a conference-high of 1,615 yards with 19 touchdowns as a running back for NRHEG. That makes him the 2008 Albert Lea Tribune Football Player of the Year.

“I love to run.” said Ramaker, a 5-foot-11-inch, 160 pound speedster.

In the first game of the season Ramaker broke in Blooming Prairie’s new football field with a 300-yard game. The following week he followed that up with a 209-yard performance against Martin County West at home in New Richland.

It went like this all season long for Ramaker as he ran for over 100 yards in all but two games, coincidentally they were both losses. Against Waterville-Elysian-Morristown Ramaker had just 80 yards rushing in a 16-12 loss. Ramaker was held to 29 yards against Triton in the section semifinals to end the year for NRHEG.

After last year’s “dream team” for the Panthers many thought that this year was going to be a rebuilding year. To many, Ramaker’s season might have been a surprise, but not so much for him.

“I set as a personal goal for myself to try to beat my friend Blake Kerkhoff’s rushing mark of just over 1,300 yards from the year before,” Ramaker said.

He numbers were in fact better than Kerkhoff. Ramaker rushed for 295 more yards than Kerkhoff and scored six more touchdowns than Kerkhoff did last season.

Last season Ramaker played at tight end and wasn’t given an opportunity to display his quickness. Instead he was responsible for creating running lanes for Kerkhoff. Like Kerkhoff, Ramaker is a sprinter for the track team, he can run the 100-yard dash in 11.7 seconds.

Ramaker had other motivation, besides topping Kerkhoff, throughout the season.

“To keep me motivated this season, I just kept thinking about that loss last year to USC in the first round of the playoffs when they came over and beat us,” Ramaker said. “That really hurt — to be having the kind of team we had and to fall like that. I just didn’t want that to happen again.”

Ramaker made sure it didn’t happen this season. The Panthers defeated the Rebels 29-14 behind Ramaker’s 212 yards and two touchdowns. He had 33 carries in the game.

As fate would have it, the two teams were paired up in the opening round of the section playoffs again this season and once again Ramaker lit up the USC defense as NRHEG beat the Rebels 28-14 to put to rest any upset talk. He rushed for 270 yards and one touchdown. The Panthers ran 64 plays on offense and Ramaker touched the ball on 37 of those plays — rushing 35 times and attempting two passes. One of the passes he completed for a touchdown to Keith Billing.

Ramaker has plans to play football in college and has some schools interested in his services as a running back.

“As far as playing football next year,” Ramaker said, “I would like to go and play with my friends at Gustavus but if that doesn’t work out I wouldn’t mind going to St. Thomas or St. Cloud State.”

Ramaker would once again be following Kerkhoff if he did decide to attend Gustavus. Kerkhoff along with fellow NRHEG graduates Travis Wayne and Brad Kruckeberg all play for Gustavus.

Just imagine that kind of backfield.