The information for this season’s Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic football game says it is making a big change this year. The game which once was played during the summer months has already been changed to a December contest. This year is no different. It will still be played in December – December 17, 2018 to be exact with a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff.
Did I say December 17, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. ET? That is a Monday night. Now that is a big change.
“Welcome to Monday Night Football live from Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl.”
It will be the very first Monday night game in the game’s history. That, to me, is a positive change. You might be a little cool if you decide to sit within the stadium that night in person, but you will not waste a Saturday during college football season. I would guess from the crowds I have seen the game attract in December the numbers are not very high because people stay home to watch other games. This change should change that some – at least for people who love high school football.
And, it is the perfect event within Alabama for college football fans to get the opportunity to watch the future college football stars play in possibly their last game. Some of the youngsters will no doubt have a chance to play in other all-star games on the national level, but this is it for the big time players to play in their home state.
Along with the change to the day of the event, the press release from the Alabama High School Athletic Association revealed the players – a 40-man squad – for the game. I noticed a glaring error to that list immediately.
There was the absence of one of the state’s top quarterbacks. But, the roster is limited for some reason to just two quarterbacks. Those two are Thompson High’s Taulia Tagovailoa, a Crimson Tide commit, and Pinson Valley High’s Bo Nix, an Auburn commit. The odd man out is Hewitt-Trussville High’s Paul Tyson. I know these players are selected early, but Tyson deserves a spot on the roster. This past weekend, the Huskies senior set his school’s record for touchdown passes in a career with 53. He still has four more regular season games and an unknown number of playoffs games to go to make that number climb higher. I am sure he is the next man up if one of the other two quarterbacks decides not to play or cannot play due to an injury.
The roster lists three players from our own Central High. Defensive back Ray Thornton, running back A’Montae Spivey and defensive lineman Bernard Miles were the three Red Devils named to the roster on Monday. Thornton is a Clemson commit. Spivey is committed to Arkansas. Miles has committed to East Kentucky. Missing is quarterback Peter Parrish who is committed to LSU.
Also on the squad are a few players Central fans will find familiar: Auburn High offensive lineman Brandon Crum, Jeff Davis defensive end/linebacker Brandon Mack and McGill-Toolen defensive lineman LeDarrius Cox. These three guys have played against Central over the past three seasons.
Representing their high schools and the University of Alabama in the future in addition to Tagovailoa are: Daphne High defensive back Christian Williams, Clay-Chalkville High defensive lineman DJ Dale, Hewitt-Trussville High offensive lineman Pierce Quick, Thompson High offensive lineman Amari Kight and Hoover High kicker/punter Will Reichard.
Representing their high schools and Auburn University will be in addition to Nix are: Hoover High wide receiver George Pickens and Hewitt-Trussville wide receiver Ja’Varrius Johnson.
The biggest name on the roster that has yet to make a commitment to any collage program is 5-star offensive lineman and the No. 1 prospect in the state Oxford High’s Clay Webb.
Alabama has a 22-9 edge over Mississippi in the series. Mississippi won last year’s contest 42-7. It was the worst beating an Alabama team has taken in the series. It is doubtful Mississippi will be able to pull off such a stunning defeat this year. In fact, I would think Alabama will be out to beat Mississippi by a large margin this year.
ONE FINAL NOTE: I placed this at the bottom of this column to fulfill a promise made last Friday night to former Central High football coach Ron Nelson. Okay Ron, I blew the prediction on Atlanta finishing – I forget where – among the worst teams in Major League Baseball back in February of this year. If I said the Braves would finish third.
I can claim I got it right since the Braves are the No. 3 seed in the playoffs and will face No. 2 Los Angeles. However, I think I picked them last in their division. I still have a shot at the Rookie of the Year prediction I made though.
Mark Clark is a local sports writer for The Citizen of East Alabama.