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Staff photo by Davis Lundy / Sarah Moser plans to follow her grandmother and mother into a career in nursing, but while in high school, she is kicking aside stereotypes with a position on the Ooltewah High School football team.

Front-row seat

Locals can see Sarah Moser in action at the Owls’ next home game Friday, Sept. 20 against Bradley Central. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.

Sarah Moser is well aware of the national discussion about Carli Lloyd, a member of the U.S. women's soccer team who is considering an offer to kick in the NFL after hitting a 55-yard field goal at a Philadelphia Eagles' practice on Aug. 21.

A junior at Ooltewah High School, Moser has played soccer since age 3. But in this instance, it would be Lloyd who is following in the young athlete's footsteps.

Moser is a junior kicker for the Owls football team.

"Oh yeah, I have followed Carli for a long time," she said. "She's trying to prove something, do something people said she couldn't do. So am I."

Moser opted not to play soccer at the end of school last May and, looking for something else to do, approached Ooltewah assistant football coach James Manning to ask about coming out for the team. Manning was supportive and sent her to see Chandler, she said.

"Both of the coaches encouraged me to give it a try, and that was it," said Moser.

Chandler welcomed Moser and told her to report with the rest of the team in June for summer workouts, including the weightlifting and running.

"I told her I would treat her like the rest of the team, and she was good with that," he said. "Early on, she struggled with the running, really struggled one day, and I thought, 'She won't be back.' But she was. Then, she pulled a muscle and I thought, 'She won't be back.' But she was."

"I wasn't about to give in," said Moser. "I had something to prove."

Braeden Haynes, Ooltewah's top kicker, said the team is "all in" with Moser.

"Everybody is glad she's here," he said. "And, it's really good for me because I have somebody to practice with and be around while the rest of the team practices."

Moser is No. 3 on the team's kicker depth chart, but is getting better all the time, said Haynes.

"She's kicking it pretty good, down around the 30-yard line, and getting better all the time," he said.

Moser said her longest field goal to date is a 35-yard kick, and Chandler said she consistently connects on points after touchdowns.

She's already proven herself under pressure.

Baylor and Ooltewah played the last game of the two-day Times Free Press Best of Preps football jamboree in mid-August at Finley Stadium. It was both teams' second session of the day.

With no score and a few seconds left on the clock and the ball on the Baylor 12-yard line, Chandler said, "Let's kick it!"

Moser trotted on and calmly hit a 19-yard field goal as time ran out to give the Owls a 3-0 win over the Red Raiders. Teammates rushed the field to celebrate the game-winner.

"Walking across the field with [Baylor coach] Phil [Massey], he shook his head, smiled and said, 'I've never been beat by a girl before,'" said Chandler. "It was a pretty cool moment."

As unique as that game-winner was for Moser, she is quick to add that she is more than a kicker.

"The week before the jamboree, I made a tackle on a kickoff in a scrimmage that prevented a score," she said.

Chandler no longer worries about whether or not Moser will be "back" for the next practice, and he points to that open-field tackle as proof.

"The team accepts her and the guys are glad she is here. No question," he said. "She made the play and made the tackle. I started thinking about moving her to linebacker."

Email Davis Lundy at davislundy@aol.com.

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