BIRMINGHAM — Charles Henderson High's football season to remember ended with a night that is hard to forget.
The Trojans' quest for the first AHSAA football championship since 1980 ended painfully with a loss to Ramsay High in the Class 5A title game at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Not long after the game ended, Charles Henderson's marvelously talented wide receiver Jywon Boyd began looking forward to redemption.
On Wednesday, he got just that as Charles Henderson held off the Rams, 61-60, in an AHSAA Class 5A boys basketball semifinals at Legacy Arena at the BJCC.
"It feels great to beat Ramsay, really great," said Boyd, who had two touchdown catches in the championship game loss. "We went through a lot losing that championship game in football. I've been thinking about this game for the longest time. Right after we lost, I knew they were good in basketball. I was hoping we'd meet them somewhere. They've got one up on us. They won a championship. But, we're coming for it."
For the Trojans, it's another step – or perhaps more accurately, a huge leap – in what has turned into a special basketball season. The Trojans' last time in the state championship game came in 1987 when they lost 62-61 to Hayes High.
Like it or not, the Charles Henderson players know all about that game.
"I kid with them all the time that I'm the only one that made it to a championship game," said Charles Henderson head coach Timothy Fayson. "I tell them all the time, even if you win a championship game, I'm still going to talk trash. There's only one thing to do – seal the deal."
Fayson doesn't need record books or old newspaper clippings to tell this year's team the details of what happened in 1987.
"For me, I was on that '87 team," Fayson said. "I was a sophomore. We lost at the buzzer to Hayes High School. I've lost a couple of my teammates. We honored them last season. Everything I've built since I've been coaching was built off that. It's built on their spirit. That jersey hangs up in our locker room. They want to do it for the program, all those that came before them."
On Wednesday, that meant beating a Ramsay High boys basketball team that seemingly has a permanent reservation in the AHSAA Final Four. The Rams were making their fifth consecutive trip to the semifinals and spent much of this season as the state's top-ranked team in the division.
Surprisingly, one way that Charles Henderson won on Wednesday was because they attacked one of Ramsay's strengths.
"At the end of the day, we've got to rebound better," said Ramsay head coach Denton Johnson. "The weakness that we saw on film, with Charles Henderson, was they didn't box out at all. They absolutely hurt us on the boards today. We haven't lost a rebound battle but one other time this entire season, and they beat us by 13."
Charles Henderson outrebounded Ramsay 44-31 overall and 23-12 on offensive rebounds. The Trojans won the second chance points category 26-8. As it turned out, the Trojans needed every one of those points to continue their quest toward school history. Charles Henderson now moves on to the Class 5A championship game on Saturday morning at 10:45 against the winner of the other Class 5A semifinal game between Valley and Scottsboro.
"I don't even know where to start," Fayson said. "To come in against that team, against those caliber players, I'm so proud of them."
Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.