By Josh Bean | For the AHSAA
Auburn, AL – Everybody at Jordan-Hare Stadium knew Ramsay High School planned to hand the ball to running back Ashton Ashford.
Deception not needed, the Rams (13-2) kept giving the ball to junior Ashton Ashford. The 5-foot-9, 180-pound running back carried the ball on every meaningful running play, finishing with 44 carries for 281 yards and five touchdowns, to lead the Rams to a 41-20 victory over Charles Henderson (12-2) in the 27th Super 7 Class 5A state football championship game Wednesday night at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Ashford’s journeyman effort earned him the game’s MVP award.
“It was like a punch in the face every time he touched it, because we knew we couldn’t stop it,” Charles Henderson senior linebacker Damien Hart said.
Ashford carried the ball on 44 of the Rams’ 48 running plays – 91.6% of the carries –
with quarterback Kam Keenan carrying once for eight yards in the fourth quarter, and Tremell Washington carrying three times in the final drive as the Rams ran out the clock. Jalen Jones also had a second-half run, but it was wiped away by a penalty and doesn’t appear in the final stats.
Ramsay threw 13 passes for total 61 plays. The ball was in Ashford’s hands heading between the tackles on roughly 75 percent of the time.
“I trusted my O-line. I trusted my coaches to put the ball in my hands,” he said, “and I did it. I just trusted my line and they did the job for me.”
The Ramsay defense also delivered two game-changing interceptions in the second half, as QB Reese intercepted a pass to set up Ashford’s 8-yard TD run that made it 27-13. Jermaine Foy also returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown with 10:42 remaining to push the lead to 34-20. Ashford’s 4-yard run with 4:45 to go capped the scoring.
“We have an undersized front,” Charles Henderson coach Quinn Hambrite said, “but that’s no excuse. They just executed better up front.”
Ramsay won its second state title and first since 2016. Charles Henderson was trying to win its first state football crown since 1980, having also finished runner-up in 4A in 2013.
While the loss ended Charles Henderson’s nine-game win streak, Hambrite noted many of the team’s key contributors are underclassmen. “I think we can go nowhere but up,” he said.
Junior receiver Jywon Boyd caught TD passes of 64 yards in the first quarter and 34 yards in the third quarter, both from Parker Adams, who was 4-of-14 for 129 yards for the Trojans. Nicholas Peerson kicked field goals of 36 and 39 yards.
Hart led the Charles Henderson defense with 11 tackles, and Zarion Mack added 10 stops. Zachary Coleman ran 15 times for 46 yards.
Ramsay’s Marquel Patterson led all players with 13 tackles, and James Jones broke up three passes. Cameron Carson and Demarcus Wynn had six tackles apiece and combined on the game’s only sack.
Andalusia (13-1) and Cherokee County (12-2) kick off Friday’s final day of Super 7 action with the Class 4A state championship game at 11 a.m. Fyffe (14-0) and B.B. Comer (12-2) clash in the 2A finals at 3p.m., and the Class 6A finals close out the 27th Super 7 at 7 p.m. with Mountain Brook (12-2) taking on Saraland (13-1).
All the championship games are being televised over Alabama Public Television Network and live streamed over the NFHS Network’s subscriber-based platform. WOTM TV is producing the games. The AHSAA Radio Network is also broadcasting all seven state championships over its network of stations and its website.