MONTGOMERY – Alabama All-Star head coach Josh Niblett of Hoover High School cut short the team’s Thursday afternoon practice at Faulkner University when heavy showers forced the team inside.
The weather didn’t dampen Niblett’s enthusiasm for this year’s 40-man squad preparing to take on Mississippi’s All-Stars next Monday in the 32nd annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Football Classic at Cramton Bowl. The contest kicks off a 6:30 p.m. and will be televised over Raycom Media’s affiliate stations in Alabama, Mississippi, Columbus (GA) and Memphis (TN) as well as other stations outside Raycom in cities like Mobile where no Raycom affiliated currently reside.
“The kids came in ready to go to work (Wednesday) and they were still excited (Friday),” Niblett said. “There is a lot of competition going on in practice and the kids are picking up what we coaches are trying to teach them really well.”
Alabama’s team suffered a blow Wednesday when Jeff Davis linebacker/defensive end Brandon Mack suffered an injury and will be unable to participate in the game Monday night. Niblett’s coaching staff found his replacement quickly with the addition of Auburn High School senior linebacker Mohamoud Diabate, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound defensive end. Coach Adam Winegarden’s standout defensive leader committed to the University Florida last August, choosing the Gators over Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Texas A&M. He made an official recruiting trip to Gainesville last weekend. Diabate reported to the All-Star practice Friday.
Niblett said his staff has tried to be smart this week – preparing the team to be at full speed come Monday. Alabama’s team holds a 22-9 edge in the all-star classic, which is an event of the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) in conjunction with the Mississippi Association of Coaches (Mac). However, Mississippi handed Alabama a 42-7 defeat last year at Hattiesburg, the worst setback in the series’ history for Alabama.
AHSADCA Director Jamie Lee said he has been impressed with how both squads have conducted themselves this week. The teams had two practices Friday and were scheduled to participate in the Camellia Bowl parade at downtown Montgomery Friday night. The City of Montgomery, which hosts the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl which kicks off Saturday afternoon with Eastern Michigan taking on Georgia Southern University, has gone to great links to incorporate the Alabama-Mississippi All-Stars in its festivities this week.
Both teams will have their sixth practice session of the week Saturday morning and will then attend the bowl game in the afternoon. Their day will conclude Saturday night with dinner at Wynlakes Country Club. Former Prattville High School, University of Alabama and current NFL standout Roman Harper will address the players and coaches at the dinner. The annual Player/Parent Banquet will be Sunday night at Cramton Bowl’s MultiPlex.
One player attracting a lot of attention this week is Alabama’s strong all-star running back corps headed North Jackson running back Lee Witherspoon. He transferred from Birmingham’s Parker High School to North Jackson this season and turned in a record-setting effort rushing for 2,850 yards and 53 touchdowns on 149 carries in 12 games for the Chiefs (11-1) for a state-record 19.1 per-yard carry average. His 53 rushing TDs also set a single-season state record and his 59 overall TDs is also an AHSAA state mark. In one game he had 11 carries for 373 yards and 8 TDs. He also had over 500 additional yards in returns. Witherspoon, who returned three interceptions for touchdowns as a junior defensive back at Parker, is joined in the All-Star backfield by running backs Jalen Henderson of Spain Park, DeAngelo Jones of Wetumpka, Larry McCammon of Hoover and Amontae Spivey of 2018 Class 7A state champion Central-Phenix City. Payton Anderson, who rushed for almost 2,000 yards for Class 2A state champion Fyffe, is also in the game but listed as a defensive back.
Alabama 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. Alabama also compiled a 17-6 record in games played at Ladd-Peebles Stadium and Mississippi won the only game played at Troy University’s Veterans Stadium.
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. For more information concerning TV coverage, go to the following link:
For ticket information, go to the following link:
GoFan is providing digital tickets for the contest at the following link:
Older Archives 2008-2014