By Justin A. Rice
Last season the Charlestown High football team gave up more than 300 points, only scored six of their own and didn’t win a single game. Last week in their season opener against St. Clement, the Townies equaled their point total from last year and eclipsed their win total thanks to one 20-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Matt Cunningham to senior wide receiver Mark Accino in the fourth quarter.
“We caught a break on a pass interference that put us close and we took advantage of it,” first year Charlestown coach Darrell Ramsey said of a squad that has no returning players from last year’s 0-10 team. “We played surprisingly well but from a coaching standpoint you can play well one week but not the next because we’re so thin and inexperienced.
“The kids were really excited. I had a lot of support in the school. A lot of people want to see us get back on track. I’m thankful to the people who support us rebuilding because we got a serious rebuilding job to do; 0-10 that’s a tough one. City kids they want to win. They go into a losing slide and that’s what we’re trying to prevent here.”
But even though the Townies have their own “demons to slay”—as Ramsey puts it—their opponent in Friday’s Mayor’s Game of the Week is also rebuilding. Despite an 8-2 season last year and a 10-1 season the year before, The J.D. O’Bryant School is 0-1 going into the 3:30 p.m. contest at Charlestown High after losing 32-6 to Cathedral last week.
“We got our butts whooped,” sixth year O’Bryant coach Kevin Gadson said. “We gotta try to get on track. Charlestown they got more of a foothold on what they’re doing and we’re rebuilding this year so we’re a work in progress.
“We’re just bewildered. We got young kids. We gotta get them up, coach them up, get them better, move around some pieces and get things to fit well so we can compete a little more. As coaches we gotta figure out the right moves.”
Gadson also said Ramsey is an unknown because it’s his first year at Charlestown since leaving Latin Academy four years ago.
“It’s like going into the dark,” Gadson said.
“During my two years at Latin Academy I went against Coach Gadson so he’ll pretty much know what offense I run and what defense I run,” Ramsey said. “We’re very inexperienced and rather thin so that being said all we want to do is try to stay close. They got a high powered offense. They got some fast kids, very intelligent ball players so we’ll have to play at our best or beyond to hang with them.
“His teams are well coached, well disciplined even if they are young.”
O’Bryant has about 23 to 26 players. Gadson worries about keeping them all academically eligible since the school increased their eligibility standards for athletes from a 1.67 to a 2.0 GPA this year.
“It hurts us and it helps us,” Gadson said. “We’re going to get kids who are pretty good academically but it hurts us when we’re playing against other kids who don’t have to have that same 2.0.”
His team has about six returning seniors from last year’s squad, including two-way lineman Carl Lotin and running back Chandler Ransom. Ransom, who had more than 600 yards rushing last year, had OB’s only TD last week on an 85-yard kick return.
“That’s one to 34,” Gadson said of Chandler’s touchdown. “We got our work cut out. We had two good seasons in row and now we’ll try to get another one. We got some young players and it’s gonna take time. We just have to rebuild.”