E.A. Sports Today

Ragsdale in at SG

Longtime defensive coordinator takes over for Jason Howard, who left the Panthers June 30 for a position at Coosa High School in Georgia.

Barrett Ragsdale has been promoted to become Spring Garden’s new head football coach. (Photo by Shannon Fagan/WEIS radio)

Editor’s note: Shannon Fagan is sports director for WEIS radio.

By Shannon Fagan
For East Alabama Sports Today

SPRING GARDEN – Monday morning was business as usual for the Spring Garden football team. They came into Dale Welsh Gymnasium ready for summer workouts in the weight room.

As for longtime defensive coordinator Barrett Ragsdale, it was also business as usual, except for one change: a promotion as the Panthers’ new head coach.

Ragsdale takes over for 20-year head coaching veteran Jason Howard, who left the Panthers for a position at Coosa High School in Georgia on June 30.

Spring Garden principal Brian Clowdis “introduced” the Panthers to their new head coach prior to their morning workout session in the weight room. The 36-year-old Ragsdale didn’t spend a whole lot of time talking with the Panthers about expectations because they already know what to expect from him.

“I’m super excited,” Ragsdale said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity that Mr. Clowdis and (Cherokee County Schools Superintendent) Mr. (Mike) Welsh have given me. Mr. Welsh hired me 14 years ago. I thank him for that opportunity, and I thank Mr. Clowdis for having faith in me to trust me with this job. It’s a big deal. There’s no better community, school or football program that I’d rather be. I’m looking forward to it.

“I’ve been with Coach Howard for 12 years as defensive coordinator, so I know what we do here. I know the expectations and the standards we’ve set over the years. We’ve accomplished a lot in 12 years. We’ve set some new standards. Moving forward, we’re just going to keep rolling along, doing what we’re doing, and playing our brand of football.”

That “brand of football” includes six 10-win seasons in the past seven years, including five straight region championships. Under Ragsdale’s guidance on defense last season, the Panthers (10-2) averaged giving up less than two touchdowns per game (13.2 points).

“We’ve been fortunate over the years to have good players on both sides of the football,” Ragsdale said. “Defensively is what I’ve been doing for the past 12 years, and we’ve established ourselves as a strong defensive team, as well as a strong offensive team. We’ve got the coaches in place on both sides of the football to keep that going.

“I’ve got seven or eight coaches who have been here for a long time. We’re going to stay together and continue to be on the same page. Any time you take a new job, especially one like this, having standards set and coaches in place who are all on the same page is huge.”

Although this is Ragsdale’s first head football position, it isn’t his first head coaching job with the Panthers.

From 2016-19, Ragsdale compiled a 75-40 record in four seasons as the Panther baseball coach, including Class 1A state runner-up in 2018 to Sweet Water. The Panthers went 26-11 that season and clinched the school’s first baseball state runner-up. Following that season, Ragsdale was named the Alabama Sports Writers Association Class 1A Baseball Coach of the Year.

Ragsdale took Spring Garden from a 4-win squad in 2016 to a 20-game winner in 2017. The Panthers finished 25-6 his final season as baseball coach in 2019, including its first Cherokee County Tournament title and a state semifinal appearance.

This past spring, Ragsdale assisted the Lady Panther softball team, which went 21-17 with a Class 1A state tournament appearance.

But Ragsdale takes little credit for helping Spring Garden achieve the success it has. He said the Panthers are just blessed with hard-working kids.

“I’ve seen all of them grow up,” he said. “The kids who are seniors now hadn’t even started kindergarten. I’ve seen them go through little leagues, so having that connection with them makes it special. It makes it exciting.”

Spring Garden opens the Ragsdale era Aug. 18 in jamboree action at Ohatchee. The Panthers’ regular season begins a week later on Aug. 25 at Sand Rock.

“I think on both sides of the football this year we’re returning eight starters, and we’ve got some young guys who are ready to step up,” Ragsdale said. “They’ve been having a good summer, so I think they’re ready to jump into those slots and keep rolling with our veteran guys.”

You must be logged in to post a comment Login