Ahmad Ross is a beast.
Offense. Defense. Take your pick.
“He’s a self-made player. Seven days a week, he’s working,” longtime St. Joseph (Hamm.) coach Paul Sacco said. “He will do anything in practice, anything after practice to get better. He is the leader of this football team.
Ross put on a show Saturday, one that has become almost commonplace on a weekly basis. The senior rushed for 227 yards and three touchdowns, while also making near double-digit tackles as St. Joe defeated Cedar Creek 49-19 in a West Jersey Football League game played on the turf next to Venice Park School in Atlantic City.
Ross scored on running plays covering 3, 40 and 6 yards, while also ripping off runs of 39, 61 and 34 yards. He carried the ball 15 times and didn’t play in the fourth quarter.
“We knew they had athletes on their side of the ball, but we have athletes on our side of the ball, too,” Ross said. “Coach Sacco continues to remind the seniors that we only have so many opportunities to play together, so we try to make the most of it.
“There’s no Ahmad Ross without the St. Joe football team, all the coaches. They push me at practice and in the weight room. I just try to be the guy for my team.”
St. Joseph (4-1) led 7-6 after the opening quarter but exploded for 21 points in the second to take a 28-13 halftime lead. The Wildcats finished with 422 yards on the ground and 489 yards of total offense.
Kevin Mayfield added 89 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Cohl Mercado had 90 yards and a score. Tyler Paige returned a fumble recovery 24 yards for a touchdown as the defense forced five turnovers.
Jahqir Haley had two interceptions, with Mercado and Ja’son Prevard also collecting picks. Ethan Hunt and Keshon Griffin had 1 1/2 sacks apiece, while Zamir Thomas and Jayden Shertel registered a sack each.
“There were still a lot of mistakes and we can get better,” Ross said. “That’s the scary part about this team. We’re a pretty dominant team now, but we’re nowhere near our full potential.
“It’s the little things, the attention to details. We know how talented our team is and that might be our biggest problem sometimes. For us to be one of those elite St. Joe teams, it’s the little things.”
The bright spot for Cedar Creek (1-4) proved to be JoJo Bermudez. The junior turned in another highlight reel performance, scoring on kickoff returns of 85 and 82 yards as well as a 35-yard TD catch. He finished with four catches for 107 yards.
Frank Hofman led the ground game with 66 yards on 15 carries.
While Bermudez proved to be the best player for Cedar Creek, it was Ross who was the best player on the field. Not easily taken down, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Army commit simply would not be denied.
If he had the ball in his hands, he often picked up extra yards after taking a hit. At linebacker, he delivered a healthy number of solid tackles and stopped opponents in their tracks.
“I have the ability to wear teams down,” Ross said. “I told my O-line to keep working. If it works for me, it will work for them.”
Sacco believes he’s a perfect fit for what it takes to be a student-athlete at West Point.
“He’s high-energy; very motivated, very smart,” the coach said. “It’s endless when it comes to his effort at practice and in games.
“Anything that comes his way, he sure deserves it.”
While there are still games to be played at the high school level, Ross can’t wait for the opportunity to compete for one of the nation’s service academies. It’s a challenge he’s looking forward to meeting.
“They showed tremendous support for me early in the recruitment process,” Ross said. “It’s a phenomenal opportunity for me to change my family’s generational wealth. That’s an elite school and not everyone can say they got an opportunity to go to Army.”
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