HATTIESBURG (MS) – Alabama’s coaching staff was pleased after the Alabama All-Star football team went through two more spirited practices Thursday. Coach Steve Smith, Piedmont’s head football coach and the all-star head coach this week, said he couldn’t me more pleased with the 40-man team.
“Their attitude has just been outstanding all week,” Smith said. “We have seen them come together as a team in a very short time.”
The 31st Alabama-Mississippi All-Star football classic is being played at Carlisle Faulkner Field/D.D. Roberts Stadium on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi for the second time in the 30-year history of the game. The Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game series, a partnership between the AHSAA and AHSADCA and the Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC), played at Mobile’s Ladd-Peebles Stadium from 1988 to 2010. The game moved to Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl in 2011 and has been there ever since – except for the 2015 game played at Hattiesburg for the first time.
Mississippi won the 2015 game 28-21 and is 1-0 at home. Last year’s game, a 25-14 win by Alabama, was played at Cramton Bowl and improved Alabama’s record to 22-8 in the series.
Smith said defensive coordinator Paul Benefield of Fyffe and the other defensive coaches Jeremy Perkins of Austin, Brent Hubbert of Maplesville and Rueben Nelson of Ramsay have tried to keep things simple. “Defensively, we are very limited at what we can do, but these kids were chosen because of their ability and knowledge of the game. They have picked up what we’re trying to do real quickly.”
Offensively, he said offensive coordinator David Faulkner of Enterprise, Larry Strain of Handley and Rob Carter of Beauregard have done a good job of getting everyone on the same page.
“Our quarterbacks James Foster of Sidney Lanier and Jack West of Saraland have done a good job as taking a leadership role,” Smith said. “They have gotten the respect of the rest of the kids. That’s important.”
Smith, a former high school and college quarterback himself, said the receiving corps on Alabama’s side can make a quarterback look real good. These kids are all big, strong and outstanding. They made me look like a good quarterback when I was throwing to them in our seven-on-seven drill. Shedrick Jackson of Hoover is Bo Jackson’s nephew and he is 6-2, 200 pounds. He’s the smallest guy on the receivers group. Our running backs, Asa Martin of Austin, Kevosiey Smoke of Wetumpka and Carlos Davis of Muscle Shoals, are all very talented and have been running hard.”
He said Kevontae Ruggs, the Robert E. Lee strong safety, has continued to do things full speed all week. Our defensive line and linebackers have really had a good week.” He noted that linebacker Jacquez Jones of Bob Jones has had an exceptional week along with defensive lineman Marese McBride. The Alabama-Mississippi Classic has always been a game that showcased some of the best players from both states with many heading to the NFL eventually. “When I coached in this game the first time it was obvious to everyone that D.J. Fluker (Foley) and Dre’ Kirkpatrick (Gadsden City) were heading to the NFL some day,” Smith said. “Right now, I would have to say that the kid who stands out like that here is our kicker Evan McPherson. This kid is the best I have ever seen.”
McPherson, a senior from Fort Payne, is rated the top kicking prospect in the nation according to most recruiting services. He booted a 60-yard field goal and kicked an 84-yard punt in the same game for the Wildcats this season. TELEVISION: The 31st annual Alabama-Mississippi Football All-Star Classic will be televised live over Raycom’s network of stations in Alabama and Mississippi. Kickoff is set for noon. Check www.ahsaa.com for more complete details. RADIO: The AHSAA Radio Network will live-stream the audio over the internet and will also carry the game live over its network of radio stations across the state.