TUSCALOOSA — As Elba quarterback Ramsey Rigby stood in the tunnel at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Friday, his thoughts meandered back to the countless dress rehearsals he had staged planning for this moment.
Back to the age of 6 when he would run up the hill beyond the end zone at Holmes Community College in Mississippi, looking down at the field and dreaming of winning a state championship with his dad coaching.
Back to the family’s time in Pensacola, Fla., when his father coached at Tate High when he was in middle school, running stadium steps to the point of exhaustion with the hope the work would one day pay off.
That’s why Elba’s 36-22 win over Fyffe to win the Class 2A championship seemed to be a fulfillment of Rigby’s preparation, a sense of relieved expectation rather than sheer jubilation.
“Honestly, I’ve spent so long anticipating this moment that I feel like I’ve already lived it,” Rigby said. “I’ve been through this million of times my head. Even last night I was mentally going through our playbook. So I’d have to say it’s exactly as I hoped it would be.”
Making the journey even sweeter is the fact Rigby indeed got to share the moment with his father, Tigers coach Ed Rigby. The elder Rigby has took a circuitous route to arrive at Elba two years ago, with stints at various high schools and colleges along the way.
“I’ve always wanted to play for him and win a state championship, and I can’t think of better place to do it than Elba,” Ramsey Rigby said. “They accepted us when we arrived like we’ve always been there.”
The Rigbys came close to fulfilling their dream last year. Elba was riding a perfect season before falling to Fyffe in the championship game. As painful as the loss was, it served as a springboard not for revenge but redemption.
“The whole experience almost overwhelmed us last year,” said Ed Rigby. “This year we have so many seniors with maturity, we were able to control the moment better. At halftime, we talked football for one minute then told jokes the rest of the time. It was just our time and we knew it.”
Elba (14-1) rushed for 307 yards to seal its fourth state championship. Blake Edwards gained 114 yards on 13 carries, sealing the win with a 36-yard TD run with 2:46 remaining to put the game out of reach.
Ramsey Rigby rushed for 62 yards and two scores and passed for 49 yards to earn most valuable player honors. Stefan Caldwell added 88 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Blake Johnson made 15 tackles.
Dilan Kirkpatrick led Fyffe (13-2) with 117 rushing yards and three scoring runs. He had 2,696 yards and 37 touchdowns this season.