Solomon Crenshaw Jr.
For The Birmingham Times
Everybody in Auburn University’s Jordan-Hare Stadium on Thursday knew that the Ramsay High School Rams were serving a heaping helping of running back Ashton Ashford, and the Charles Henderson High School Trojans couldn’t stop him.
As a result, Ramsay feasted in a 41-20 victory in the Class 5A Alabama High School Athletic Association Super 7 football championship.
Ashford, a junior running back, finished the night with 44 carries for 281 yards and five touchdowns to help the team from Birmingham’s Southside to its second state football championship. It won its first in 2016 after not fielding a team for 35 years.
Ramsay Coach Ronnie Jackson said there was no doubt who his team would lean on to complete this latest title run.
“We’ve just been riding him the whole entire time,” Jackson said. “He did come to me and said, ‘Coach, I got you. I trust you.’ He showed us. He showed us tonight. He played ball.”
Ashford said he wasn’t tired despite having shouldered much of the Ramsay offense. But he acknowledged that he didn’t do it alone. “I really want to thank my O-line,” he said. “They made the way for me. They opened holes for me. I hit them and I scored.”
Star linebacker Quinton Reese goes against Ashford in practice so he wasn’t surprised about what his teammate did.
“This is my brother,” he said. “We compete all day at practice … in the game, I know I got his back and he got my back. I just always have faith in him no matter what.”
Jackson said Ramsay’s football program has challenges other schools don’t face: there is no on-campus stadium or a fieldhouse. And because of a fire in the Willie Scoggins Gymnasium, it doesn’t have a real weight room.
“We do have a little a little meeting room that we turned into a weightroom,” the coach said. “I told these guys (to) just trust in Him (God) and the small things, we can’t worry about (them). It shows the character of these kids so I’m just so proud. We don’t complain about we don’t have, we’re just thankful for what we do have.”
Ramsay, ranked No. 4 in the Alabama Sports Writers Association poll prior to the playoffs, finished with a 12-2 record. No. 10 Charles Henderson wound up 11-2 on the heels of an 2-8 mark in 2021.
Ramsay Principal Carolyn Russell Walker said she is extremely proud of the athletes who earned the latest prize for the school’s trophy case.
“They not only persevere in their skill of football, they persevere the classroom,” she said. “They are upstanding, solid. They embody a balance between character and intellect.
“They understand that academics are the priority, even in the midst of long football practices,” Walker continued. “They still incorporate community service along with their academics and keeping it all at a high level.”