MONTGOMERY – Alabama and Mississippi All-Star head coaches Josh Niblett of Hoover and Henry Johnson of Clarksdale (MS) agree on one things after two practice sessions. Both teams are talented and both teams reported with one main goal – to win next Monday’s 32nd annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Football Classic. The kicks off a 6:30 p.m., and will be televised over Raycom’s affiliate stations in Alabama, Mississippi, Columbus (GA) and Memphis (TN) as well as other stations outside Raycom in cities like Mobile.
“We coaches have been impressed by the players’ attitudes,” Niblett said of his Alabama squad. “The players all seem to be very respectful of the coaches, their teammates and the other team. We know we have a lot to teach in a short time. We had a very good practice yesterday and again (Thursday morning). I told our players that we need them to get better every practice. We know they have talent, and we know they were all selected for their outstanding work ethic. My goal is to have them peaking at the right time – next Monday night. This game is also about relationships … some that will go with these kids for a lifetime.”
Niblett said some players are already showing great leadership. “It starts at quarterback and (Pinson Valley’s) Bo Nix is showing great leadership. The other players are looking to him and he is acting like a field leader.
“We have others like linebackers LaVonta Bentley of Jackson-Olin and Kendall McCallum of Oxford are intense … they are alpha dogs out there.”
Mississippi’s Johnson said his team’s leaders are also stepping forward. He mentioned quarterback John Rhys Plumlee of Oak Grove is very vocal. He is a take-charge kind of player. And linebacker Nakobe Dean of Horn Lake is much quieter but leads just the same. He leads by his actions. He’s got a 4.35 GPA and is one of the smartest kids I have ever seen.
“He doesn’t say much. He lets his actions on and off the field do the talking for him.” Johnson also said the players are reacting well to the coaching staff. “They are picking up what we are trying to teach them really well. That’s always encouraging.”
Johnson said his team’s talented defensive front four also stand out. They’re big, strong and fast and are showing a great attitude.”
The teams were scheduled to go to the Hyundai Plant for a tour Thursday night after the afternoon practice. Both teams will have workouts from 9 to 11 a.m., Friday with Alabama at Faulkner University and Mississippi at Huntingdon College. They will practice again from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., Friday afternoon before departing for dinner and then participation in the Raycom Camellia Bowl Parade. The squads will practice again Saturday morning with the players attending the Camellia Bowl at Cramton Bowl Saturday afternoon. NFL standout Roman Harper will then speak to the squads at a dinner set for Wynlakes Country Club Saturday night.
Alabama holds a 22-9 edge and is 5-0 in games played at Cramton Bowl. Mississippi is 2-0 in games played at Hattiesburg, including last year’s 42-7 win.
The game is an event hosted by the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) in conjunction with the AHSAA. Alabama’s All-Stars hold a 22-9 edge in the series which began in 1988 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium and moved to Cramton Bowl in 2011. It also started a rotation in 2015 with the game being hosted every other year by the Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC).
The AHSAA Radio Network plans to broadcast the game live over its statewide network of radio and internet affiliates. The link will be available at www.ahsaa.com.
Pinson Valley 26, Saraland 17
AUBURN – Pinson Valley High School held off Saraland in the second half to beat the Spartans 27-16 and claim its second consecutive Super 7 Class 6A state football championship Friday night at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The 6A finals closed out the 2018 Super 7. Attendance for all the finals 51,651 with 22,435 on hand for the 7A finals on Wednesday night, 16,012 in attendance on Thursday and 13,204 on hand for Friday’s three games. The total was up more than 15,000 from 2017.
Senior quarterback Bo Nix completed 25-of-35 passes for 306 yards and two touchdowns and rushed 15 times for 66 yards and another TD to earned MVP honors for his dad Coach Patrick Nix’s Indians (13-10 for the second straight year.
It was his keeper for two yards on fourth down at the Saraland 31-yard line with just under a minute remaining that sealed the hard-fought victory over Coach Jeff Kelly’s Spartans (13-2).
Nix teamed up with receiver Geordian Pollard for the longest touchdown pass in Super 7 Class 5A championship-game history on an 83-yard connection early in the second quarter to give Pinson a 12-3 lead at halftime. The pass was also the second longest in Super 7 history over all. The record, an 85-yard TD connection, was set earlier in the week by Mars Hill Bible in its 1A win over Linden. That pass eclipsed the Super 7 record set, ironically, by future NFL receiver Chad Jackson on a Hoover flanker pass in a 48-21 loss to Daphne in the 2001 Super 7 Class 6A finals.
Saraland took the early lead with a 32-yard field goal by Cole Robitzch late in the first quarter. The Indians drove 64 yards on six plays on the ensuing drive to take a 6-3 lead on Nix’s 2-yard run with 40 seconds left in the opening period. Spartans defensive back Shawn Byrd blocked both extra-point kicks following Pinson’s two first-half touchdowns. He also had two interceptions on defense, forced a fumble and recorded a game-high 13 tackles to keep Saraland in striking distance.
His second pick was the catalyst that led to the Spartans’ first touchdown, a 3-yard run by Rayshawn McAlpine which came at 2:40 in the third quarter and cut the Indians’ lead to 12-10.
Pinson answered quickly, however, driving 62 yards on 10 plays in the next three minutes to take a 19-10 lead on Nix’s 2-yard TD pass to Demarion Holloman with 11:21 to play. Saraland stormed right back scoring on quarterback Brett Nezat’s 11-yard TD pass to Jay Williams to pull within two 19-17 with just under nine minutes to play.
Is was Pinson’s defense that came up with the biggest play of the final period, however, when Kendall Thornton intercepted a Saraland pass and sped 32 yards into the end zone for the final score of the game with 5:03 to play.
Pinson Valley had 21 first downs, 94 yards rushing and 306 passing for 400 total yards. Saraland had 18 first downs, 221 yards rushing, 106 passing and 327 total yards. Nix, who became the state’s all-time career total offense leader in the Indians’ semifinal win over Clay-Chalkville, finished the season 267-of-445 passing on the year for 3,795 yards and 49 touchdowns with just eight interception. He finished his career with 161 touchdowns accounted for with 126 passing touchdowns and 35 rushing touchdowns to set a new AHSAA career state record.
McAlpine led Saraland with 158 yards rushing on 28 carries and Karie White had 65 on five runs. Nezat was 8-of-21 passing for 106 yards with Jay Williams hauling in four receptions.
Dorian Henderson and Antone Williams each had 11 tackles to pace the Indians defense.
2018 Super 7 State Championship Results
Mars Hill Bible 53, Linden 26
Fyffe 21, Luverne 19
Flomaton 23, Piedmont 12
UMS-Wright 52, Deshler 0
Central-Clay County 43, Vigor 42
Pinson Valley 26, Saraland 17
Central-Phenix City 52, Thompson 7
UMS-Wright 52, Deshler 0
AUBURN – Junior wide receiver Keyshawn Woodyard set a Super 7 Class 4A state championship game record with four touchdown receptions to lead UMS-Wright (14-0) to a 52-0 victory over Deshler (9-6) Friday at Jordan-Hare Stadium in the first of three games for the final day of the 2018 state championships.
He had TD receptions of 7, 7, 15 and 17 yards – from three different passers and finished the game with nine receptions for 128 yards to earn Class 4A game MVP.
Tailback Symon Smith, who rushed for 33 yards on seven carries, tossed a halfback pass to Woodyard for the first TD. Quarterback Skipper Snypes threw the second two TDs in the first half and left-handed wide receiver Richard Brinson fired a 17-yard strike in the third quarter for the other TD.
William Percy booted a 36-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to up the Bulldogs’ lead to 24-0 at the half. Joe Barber scored on a 1-yard run, Trey Singleton bulled in from the 2 for another TD and Edwin White closed out the scoring with 5-yard run early in the fourth quarter.
The championship was the second in a row and eighth overall for UMS-Wright and the seventh directed by head coach Terry Curtis, who became the AHSAA’s newest 300-game winner in the second round of the state playoffs earlier this season..
UMS-Wright totaled 22 first downs, 175 yards rushing and 206 passing for 381 yards. The Bulldogs had no turnovers. Deshler, coached by Bo Culver, totaled 111 yards with 32 passing and 79 rushing. The Tigers had four turnovers.
Snypes was 13-of-17 passing for the Bulldogs for 182 yards. White, who rushed for 121 yards on 21 carries, caught two passes for 30 yards. He also had 64 yards on punt returns with a long of 44 yards and opened the game with a 58-yard kickoff return to set up his team’s first TD.
Xavier Trotter gained 51 yards on nine attempts to lead Deshler. Channing Marmann was 7-of-14 passing got 32 yards with Samuel Almon leading the Tigers with four receptions.
Linebacker Will Breland had 10 tackles for a Bulldogs defense that registered its seventh shutout of the season with the win. UMS-Wright allowed only 58 points (4.4 ppg) in 14 games – best in the AHSAA in 2018. White made two interceptions on defense, Brinson had one and Conrad Inge had the fourth one for the Bulldogs.
Jacob Statom led Deshler’s defense with 12 tackles. Teammates Harley Wallace and Arley Wallace added seven tackles each. Harley also had three tackles for losses.
Luverne (13-1) and Fyffe (14-0) kicked off at 3 p.m., Friday in the 2A finals and Pinson Valley (12-1) is scheduled to face Saraland (13-1) in the Class 6A finals at 7 p.m., to close out the 2018 Super 7 Championships.
All games are being televised by the Raycom Sports Network with the Raycom feed live-streamed over the NFHS Network. The AHSAA Radio Network will also broadcast the games live over their network of radio and internet affiliates across the state.
MONTGOMERY – Thompson (12-1) and Central-Phenix City (13-0) each posted dramatic last-minute wins Friday night in the AHSAA Class 7A football playoff semifinals to advance to the 2018 Super 7 State Championships at Auburn Dec. 5.
The other six classes played quarterfinal rounds with four teams in each class advancing to the semifinals. All games will be played at home sites on Friday night, Nov. 30 with 7 p.m. kickoffs.
Coach Mark Freeman’s Warriors nipped Hoover 31-28 to become the first non-Hoover school reach the large-school state finals for the first time since 1999. Hoover High School appeared in the Class 6A state championship game every year from 2000 to 2017 except twice (2007 and 2015) when Spain Park represented the North. Thompson’s last state championship game appearance came in Class 3A in 1982 when the Warriors finished 14-0 to win the state title under the direction of Coach Larry Simmons, now a member of the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame.
Central-Phenix City, coached by Jamey DuBose, is making its first state championship appearance since 1993. The Red Devils won the 1993 Class 6A state title over West End of Birmingham at Legion Field with Coach Wayne Trawick as head coach. Like Simmons, Trawick is also a member of the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame.
Freeman (197-49) and DuBose (124-38) are not strangers to the AHSAA state finals, however. DuBose coached Prattville to Class 7A state titles in 2008 and 2011 and runner-up finish in 2009. He was an assistant Prattville’s 2004 state runner-up team and 2006 and 2007 state championship squads. Freeman coached Spanish Fort to back-to-back state titles in 2012 and 2013 and began his coaching at Bessemer Academy in the AISA – winning four state titles in that league and finished second twice from 1998-2007. DuBose is 53-9 in five seasons at Central with four straight trips to the semifinals. Freeman is 50-7 in four seasons at Thompson with semifinal appearances the last two years.
Among the 24 schools advancing to this week’s other semifinal games are 12 No. 1 seeds, 10 No. 2 seeds, one No. 3 seed (Class 4A Andalusia (9-4) and one No. 4 seed (Class 4A Oneonta (10-3).
At least one region in all six classes have two teams squaring off the semifinals with Region 3 foes Maplesville (12-1) vs. Linden (12-0) in Class 1A; Region 3 and Crenshaw County rivals Luverne (12-1) vs. Highland Home (12-1) in Class 2A; Region 6 teams Randolph County (12-1) and Piedmont (11-2) in Class 3A; Region 1 rivals Andalusia (9-4) and defending state champion UMS-Wright (12-0) in Class 4A; Region 5 opponents Central-Clay County (10-3) vs. Mortimer Jordan (12-1) in Class 5A; and Region 6 Jefferson County rivals Clay-Chalkville (12-1) vs. defending state champion Pinson Valley (11-1) in Class 6A.
Unbeaten teams advancing to round 4, by class, include: (Class 1A) Linden (12-0); (Class 2A) Fyffe (13-0); and (Class 4A) UMS-Wright.
Raycom Network announced its AHSAA Playoff Game of the Week early this coming week will be the Clay-Chalkville vs. Pinson Valley game. The NFHS Network produced 17 live-streamed events over its NFHS Network School Broadcast Program in Round 3 and 42 radio/internet audio broadcasts were also produced statewide by local radio and school affiliates. At least five games will be live-streamed this week over the NFHS Network’s subscriber-based platform.
The third-round pairings:
AHSAA State Football Playoffs
(All games Nov. 30, 7 p.m. kickoff)
Maplesville (11-1) at Linden )12-0)
Pickens County (9-4) at Mars Hill Bible (12-1), Florence
Luverne (12-1) at Highland Home (12-1)
Aliceville (11-2) at Fyffe (13-0)
Providence Christian (12-1) at Flomaton (10-3)
Randolph County (12-1) at Piedmont (11-2)
Andalusia (9-4) at UMS-Wright (12-0), Mobile
Oneonta (10-3) at Deshler (8-5), Tuscumbia
Vigor (12-1) at Greenville (11-2)
Central-Clay County (10-3) at Mortimer Jordan (12-1), Kimberly
Saraland (12-1) at Wetumpka (11-2)
Clay-Chalkville (12-1) at Pinson Valley (11-1), RAYCOM Game of the Week
(Finals, Dec. 5, Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn)
Central-Phenix City (13-0) vs. Thompson (12-1)
AHSAA State Football Playoffs
Maplesville 29, Lanett 6
Linden 44, St. Luke’s Episcopal 43
Mars Hill Bible 41, South Lamar 27
Pickens County 13, Spring Garden 0
Luverne 26, Leroy 7
Highland Home 28, Ariton 14
Fyffe 21, Ohatchee 13
Aliceville 38, Addison 22
Flomaton 12, Pike County 10
Providence Christian 23, Gordo 20
Piedmont 27, Westminster Christian 26
Randolph County 19, Saks 8
Andalusia 28, Hillcrest-Evergreen 21
UMS-Wright 21, American Christian 19
Oneonta 29, Good Hope 8
Deshler 20, Hokes Bluff 14
Greenville 27, Ramsay 13
Vigor 27, Demopolis 7
Central-Clay County 35, Etowah 13
Mortimer Jordan 41, Jasper 21
Saraland 24, Opelika 19
Wetumpka 21, Spanish Fort 17
Pinson Valley 48, Homewood 7
Clay-Chalkville 45, Oxford 9
Central-Phenix City 34, Lee-Montgomery 27
Thompson 31, Hoover 28
Older Archives 2008-2014