Charles Henderson sets sights on state championship

Published 4:07 pm Tuesday, November 29, 2022

The Charles Henderson Trojans (12-2) are one win away of reaching their ultimate goal this season – a state championship – but standing in the way is the Ramsay Rams (12-2) in the Class 5A State Championship on Thursday night in Auburn.

Neither Ramsay nor Charles Henderson have ever laid claim to a Class 5A Title, while the Trojans won a 3A State Crown in 1980 and the Rams won the 6A State Championship in 2016. This is also the first time that either school has played in the state championship in 5A.

Ramsay finished the 2022 regular season as Region 5 Champions with their only losses coming at the hands of Class 7A’s Auburn and Class 6A’s Parker. The Rams have scored the most points in school history this season and are averaging 40 points per game in the playoffs, while holding opposing offenses to 18 points per game. Ramsay survived a slugfest with Pleasant Grove in the semifinals last week by a score of 27-20.

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“They’re fast and they can stretch the field,” CHHS coach Quinn Hambrite said of Ramsay. “They like to play the perimeter and they can score a lot of points fast if you allow them to. We have to contain the edges, contain he deep ball and make them win in ways they aren’t used to.”

Ramsay has used both sophomores Kameron Keenan and Tremell Washington at quarterback this season with Keenan completing 108-of-187 passes for 1,744 yards, 17 touchdowns and six interceptions, while Washington has completed 57-of-78 passes for 968 yards, 15 touchdowns and four interceptions.

Leading the way at receiver is shifty senior Jalen Jones with 69 catches for 1,246 yards and 15 touchdowns. Junior running back Ashton Ashford has amassed 1,597 yards and 21 touchdowns on 209 carries this season, as well. Ramsay offensive lineman Anthony Miles is a 6-foot-5-inch, 285-pound tackle that will play college football at Vanderbilt next season.

The balanced Ram offense is averaging 369 yards per game this season with 174 yards on the ground and 195 yards passing.

“We expect them to do a lot of things defensively,” Hambrite said. “They have multiple schemes they’ll run. We just have to be ready for everything that comes our way.”

On defense, junior linebacker Quinton Reese leads the way with 146 tackles, 23 tackles-for-loss, five sacks and three interceptions. Senior Caleb Patterson has 65 tackles, 21 tackles-for-loss and 15 sacks on the season, as well.

The Charles Henderson offense comes into the finals averaging 28 points and 347 yards per game. The Trojans average 196 yards passing and 151 yards rushing per game. During the playoffs, CHHS is averaging 27 points per game and is giving up 13 points per game.

Quarterback Parker Adams has 2,461 yards, 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on 165-of-272 passing this year, while junior athlete Jy’won Boyd has amassed 1,532 total yards and 20 touchdowns on offense. Boyd also has one defensive touchdown and two special teams touchdowns.

“We know (Ramsay) will scheme around (Boyd) but we have athletes around the board that can make plays when their numbers are called,” Hambrite said of Ramsay trying to neutralize Boyd in the game. “We want them to double (team him) and have eyes on (Boyd) because it opens up things for so many other guys that can make plays for us.”

Senior receiver Stephon Mosely has 39 catches for 664 yards and four touchdowns on the year, while junior running back Zach Coleman has tallied 785 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground along with sophomore Antonio Frazier’s 130 carries for 617 yards and three touchdowns rushing.

Defensively, senior linebacker Damien Hart leads the Trojans with 145 tackles, seven tackles-for-loss and two sacks, while both Boyd and senior safety Mario Davenport have five interceptions each. Sophomore defensive end Zion Grady has been a “game wrecker” for opposing offenses with 105 tackles, 36 tackles-for-loss and 22 sacks on the season.

Hambrite understands that Ramsay will likely have to double-team Grady but that allows for some of Charles Henderson’s other pass rushers to make an impact, as they’ve done all season.

“You have to double team (Grady) or you have to chip him at least,” Hambrite said. “If you double team, we have other guys that can win one-on-one battles across the board. We aren’t reliant on just one guy making plays.

“(Nose tackle) Zarion Mack is a beast, he can whoop the center or the guard and make plays in the backfield. (Defensive tackle) Jalen Suddith is fast, physical and he beats people with speed. (Defensive tackle) Zamir Caffie has some of the best hands on our team in terms of getting off blocks. (Defensive end) Qua Grimes does a good job there, as well. You can’t double us but if you have the manpower to do it, by all means do it and kudos to you because you just have a better team with better players. We do a good job of mixing it up because we have a lot of kids that can make plays.”

Charles Henderson sees the ultimate goal for a high school team directly in front of them and Hambrite said they know what they have to do to win.

“We need to compete and play hard and play fast. If we do those things – and be disciplined – we give ourselves a chance to win the game,” he emphasized. “We have to compete and play harder than them, we have to play fast and physical and win in the trenches.

“We give ourselves a really good chance to win if we do those things. We’re thankful for the opportunity in its entirety because we are playing a team that looks almost exactly like us and maybe is a little faster than us. The challenge is accepted and the kids are embracing it.”

The Trojans and Rams have played just one time, in the first round of the Class 5A Playoffs in 2018, which saw Ramsay win 36-7.

Charles Henderson and Ramsay will play at 7 p.m. on Thursday night at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn. While a Thursday night kickoff is a short week, and could affect some teams, the Trojans are used to playing Thursdays.

“It’s normal preparation for us,” Hambrite said. “It’s not anything foreign to us.”