Anyone who went into Hoover (Alabama) High School’s game against then No. 13 Central High School (Phenix City, Alabama) last Friday thinking the Bucs may have a chance didn’t share the sentiments of Bucs quarterback Robby Ashford.
He didn’t think Hoover could win… He knew they would.
Yes, even when he found himself sitting in the locker room at halftime down 14-0, Ashford knew that if he and his receivers could get on the same page, things would turn.
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“I just told my guys I’ve got you and you’ve got me,” Ashford said. “We’re a young team and sometimes it clicks late, but it still clicks when you have talent like this.”
The Bucs scored 17 unanswered points in the second half, the last three came on Constantine Hontzas’ 30-yard field goal as time expired, to complete the upset.
“In come-from-behind situations in games, people say they knew they would win, but I meant it,” said Ashford, an Ole Miss commit. “I never doubted because I understood our team, and I know we’re still learning. Now the biggest thing is that we can’t have a letdown after that big win. It was a confidence booster, but it also made the target bigger for us.”
To that point, every team wants to knock off teams ranked in USA Today’s Super 25; the win took Hoover from unranked to No. 19.
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Ashford said that while he and his teammates embrace the appointment, they stop short of being consumed by it.
The “all in stride” approach should keep the Bucs focused headed in to Friday’s game against Cocoa (Florida) High School.
“We knew we’d have to work to get ranked, but we took it as a challenge,” said Ashford, who added that he and his teammates have increased their reps in practice and time in film session since the win. “Now we know that we’re one of the best teams in the country. The only thing you can do at this point is turn up how hard you’re working.”
Ashford used the same logic last season as a first-year starter and ended up posting more than 2,500 passing yards, more than 600 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns.
In Friday’s win, Ashford caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from E.J. Williams on a trick play midway through the third quarter then Ashford threw a 13-yard pass to Cooper Tullo to tie the game at 14 headed in to the fourth quarter.
“All of my offensive coaches at Ole Miss texted me congratulating me on the win,” Ashford said. “It was a fun game, but that’s behind us now. I see our potential even more now and that makes me want to go harder from here on out. That’s just how I’m wired.”
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Makes sense for a guy who not only stars under center but also as one of the top baseball players in the country. Ashford, an outfielder, plans to play both sports next year at Ole Miss.
“They’ve got the perfect plan setup for me to play both sports,” Ashford said. “I love Ole Miss; I’m not entertaining anyone else, I’m not taking visits anywhere else, I’m 100 percent there. Right now, it’s all about Cocoa. We learned a lot last week and we’ll apply that this week. The goal is to produce more and be sharper every week. We aren’t satisfied.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY