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.
AUBURN – UMS-Wright High School’s girls captured the AHSAA Class 1A-5A State Swimming championship and Westminster Christian captured the Class 6A-7A girls’ state crown Saturday as the 2018 State Swimming and Diving Championships concluded at James E. Martin Aquatic Center on the Auburn University campus Saturday.
Boaz and T.R. Miller tied with 161 points each to share the Class 1A-5A boys’ state title, and Huntsville captured the Class 6A-7A championship for the third year in a row.
UMS-Wright totaled 285 points to claim the first girls swimming crown since 1997. Whitesburg Christian was second with 209 points and Scottsboro was third at 149. Madison Academy finished fourth with 130 points and Briarwood Christian was fifth with 106. Sarak Kate Sligh, of St. Michael’s Catholic, won gold in the 50 Free and 100 Breatstroke PARA events.
In the girls’ Class 6A-7A competition, Westminster Christian posted 265 points to win its thirst consecutive crown. The Wildcats won the Class 1A-5A state championship in 2016 and 2017 but moved up to Class 6A-7A this season. Spanish Fort finished second with 198 points, followed by Grissom (163), James Clemens (162) and defending champion Auburn (150) to round out the top five finishers.
The 1A-5A boys’ state championship was the first for Boaz and T.R. Miller. St. Michael Catholic was third with 149 points, Jasper was fourth (140.50) and Scottsboro (122) finished fifth. Huntsville totaled 309 points to win the 6A-7A boys’ state title. The championship was the Panthers’ 15th overall, tying the state record set by Grissom from 1984-1999. Huntsville has also won the AHSAA crown five times in the last seven years. Daphne was second with 262 points, Auburn was third with 216, followed by Spain Park (179) and Davidson (164).
Several records fell in AHSAA’s 59th State Championships in the 6A-7A division but no records fell in the 1A-5A division.
Class 6A-7A Boys
200-Yard Medley Relay: Daphne set a Class 6A-7A record in the prelims clocking 1:35.81 and then topped that mark in the finals with a 1:1:35.07. The team was comprised of senior Will Robinson, junior Trey Sheils, senior Graham Jenkins and senior Tyler Bailey.
100-Yard Breaststroke: Daphne’s Sheils set a new all-time record in the prelims swimming a 55.39 time, and he then topped that mark in the finals with a 55.34.
50-Yard Freestyle: Wen Zheng of Northview broke the record he set as a sophomore in 2016 (20.56) with a 20.47 time in Saturday’s finals.
100-Yard Freestyle: Zhang also broke the 6A-7A record (44.78) he set in 2016 with a winning time of 44.24 in Saturday’s finals.
500-Yard Freestyle: Spain Park junior Ward Lockhart set the 6A-7A record with a 4:37.02 time in the prelims. He won the finals by breaking that mark clocking 4:36.87.
Class 6A-7A Girls
200-Yard Freestyle: Sophomore Rebekah Hamilton of Westminster Christian swam the distance in 1:49.45 to set the mark for 6A-7A. She set the 1A-5A division record (1:50.35) in 2016 and now holds both marks.
200-Yard IM: Letitia Sim, a sophomore from Spanish Fort, set a new Class 6A-7A and record with a 2:01.64 time. Mallory Underwood of Athens set the record previously with a 2:03.60 time in the 2016 state meet.
100-Yard Breaststroke: Sim set her second record of the 2018 meet with a 1:01.64 time in the breaststroke race. The old mark (1:02.13) was set by Megan Molnar of Auburn in 2010.
50-Yard Freestyle: Sophomore Eboni McCarty of Westminster Christian set a record (22.86) in the prelims Friday and topped that mark in the finals swimming a 22:81 time.
100-Yard Freestyle: McCarty clocked 50.41 seconds to set a new mark in the 6A-7A division.
Complete results can be found at:
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