Fayetteville running back Brady Ritchey’s eyes locked onto the scoreboard as the final seconds ticked off. Within moments his high school career would end with a 26-13 loss to Childersburg on Halloween.
It felt like a "nightmare," but Brady still wasn’t ready to wake up. In fact, he couldn’t, not yet anyway.
“After taking my last snaps as a high school football player, overwhelmed with emotions and wiping tears from my eyes and hugging my fellow teammates, I walked slowly to the locker room,” Brady said. “Trying to hold onto every moment of this sport before I unlaced my cleats for what I thought would be the last time.”
On Tuesday, Brady and his twin brother Blake Ritchey left that nightmare behind when they celebrated with family and friends their intention to play football at Huntingdon College, an NCAA Division III school in Montgomery, extending their football careers for years to come.
“It was our reward,” Blake said. “Because when we were working out this summer, you’re thinking I may not ever touch the field. I’m working out, I’m pushing it, but there’s a chance I don’t play because of covid and everything.
“We were so unsure about it, but to play the season and get a scholarship that was worth it. Everything I put in was worth it, blood, sweat, tears. I wouldn’t take any of it back.”
Blake expects to play defensive end at Huntingdon, while Brady is expected to remain at running back. Both ended their careers with at least 35 straight starts under their belts.
“I love these two more than they even know,” Fayetteville coach John Limbaugh said. “As a coach, you want people who will do the right things. That will be all in for your program and will be leaders. These two have been leaders ever since they started playing for the school.”
Both brothers said they were willing to play for different schools if things worked out that way, but it’s special that Huntingdon wanted both of them.
When asked what moment from his Fayetteville career stands out the most, Brady couldn’t help but reflect on his final memory in the uniform.
“Now looking back and it’s more of like an exciting thing knowing that, that wasn’t truly the last one, and it’s more of a motivation thing,” Brady said. “Knowing I have more to strive for because the next time I step off the field, it really could be the last.”