Cavs’ Ramsey ready for playoffs

Published 10:49 pm Tuesday, November 7, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

HOGANSVILLE – In the biggest moment of the 2016 season, Callaway quarterback Dylan Johnson was up to the challenge.

In a quarterfinal game against Screven County, the Cavaliers had the ball on their own 2-yard line with less than two minutes to play, and they needed a touchdown to take the lead.

Johnson guided the Cavaliers down the field, and on a fourth-down play, he threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to Braylon Sanders to lift his team to a 35-34 victory.

As the Cavaliers prepare for what they hope will be another extended playoff stay, there’s a different man under center, and at some point he could be called upon to lead a potential game-winning drive.

Senior Kedrick Ramsey, who has started every game this season, is eager to get his chance to lead the team in the playoffs.

He’ll get his first opportunity on Friday when Callaway hosts Douglass-Atlanta in the opening round of the Class AA playoffs.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Ramsey said after last week’s win over Jordan that wrapped up a 9-1 regular season. “I want to take this team where we’ve never been before. We’ve got the talent to do it. I just want to keep practicing hard and try to make it.”

Before the season, Ramsey was one of a handful of players vying to be Callaway’s starting quarterback.

Ramsey took a few snaps at quarterback last season, but his primary role was on defense as a starting linebacker.

When the preseason game against Northside-Columbus rolled around, the quarterback job was Ramsey’s, and he started all 10 regular-season games.

While the Cavaliers are primarily a running team, Ramsey has been effective through the air, and he threw seven touchdown passes in 10 games.

Against Spencer, in Callaway’s second-to-last game of the regular season, Ramsey threw three touchdown passes, one apiece to DQ Wilkerson, Jacob Freeman and Nathan Sapp.

Beyond the stats, the job of a quarterback is to provide leadership and a steadying influence, and Ramsey has done that.

“I just try to set the tone for my team early,” Ramsey said. “When they get down, they look for guidance, and I’ve got to be that person.”

When the 2016 ended, Callaway offensive coordinator Matt Napier knew he was going to have to find a quarterback to replace Johnson.

There were a number of candidates, but it was Ramsey who won the job.

“He worked his tail off,” Napier said. “He worked all off-season. Our quarterbacks get up in the morning and throw in the spring, and he did a great job this summer just working and throwing, and perfecting his craft.

“He really earned it. He earned the respect of his teammates. He’s done a really good job. He’s a high-character kid. He’s a positive kid, and he’s been a great leader.”

Napier said with Ramsey at the helm, he has been able to use every page in the expansive playbook.

“He’s really super-smart, too, so we’ve been able to do a lot of different stuff with him,” Napier said. “Maybe with somebody else we might have to close the playbook a little bit. We’ve been able to do everything that I’ve wanted to be able to do, because he’s such a smart kid, and such a good leader. He takes charge. He does a really good job.”

Callaway’s forte as an offense is its versatile and explosive running attack, with DJ Atkins, Cartavious Bigsby and Qua Hines having combined for more than 2,000 rushing yards.

Callaway has been able to hit on some big plays in the passing game, though, with defenses focused on slowing down Atkins and company.

Ramsey has completed a number of deep throws to wide receivers Courtney Williams, DQ Wilkerson and Jacob Freeman.

“When we get the run game going, they key on DJ, Tank, and Qua, and that opens up the passing game for me,” Ramsey said.

When game time rolls around on Friday, Napier will happily be calling the plays for Ramsey.

“He is a great kid, and a great leader,” Napier said. “He is got such a positive attitude, and he’s worked so hard. It’s one of those deals where you couldn’t be more proud of where a kid has come from.”